Action Plan: Google+ Pages

google-plus 1Your Google+ Page promises to be a powerful tool in your marketing, but for now, information on making it so seems to be all over the place, as well as changing daily.  It’s easy to lose track of or miss opportunities, when setting up your Google+ Business Page if you don’t keep a few, core steps in mind.  This Action Plan will help you make sure no steps are missed, as well as assisting you to set things up quickly and easily.

Setting Up A Google+ Page for your Business

Setting up a Page for your business is simple — but it has to integrate with your Google account, so if you are setting one up for a client, ensure that client understands you will be using her Google account log in information — not yours!

What You Need to Have Ready:

While in the signup process, you will need to enter at least two of these three criteria, depending on the Category you choose:

  • A valid phone number
  • Your location
  • Your profile photo or Logo graphic (preferably square, though Google+ allows you to not only drag and drop but drag and position)

When you’re ready…

  • Go to https://plus.google.com/pages/create.  It will prompt you to log into your account, if you haven’t already done so.  (If you have already logged into your account, you can simply select the “Create a Google+ page” beside your stream.)


  •        Select the category most appropriate to your business.  Your choices are:
Category Description
Local Business or Place Hotels, restaurants, places, stores, services
Product or Brand Apparel, cars, electronics, financial services
Company, Institution or Organization Companies, organizations, institutions, non-profits
Arts, Entertainment or Sports Films, TV, music, books, sports, shows
Other Use if your page doesn’t fit in any of the previous categories

(Note you will only need your phone number for “Local Business or Place”)

  1. Select “Create”, and follow the prompts to add:
  • A powerful tagline of 10 words that best describes your business
  • Your profile photo or graphic

Inserting a photo is even more easy than usual:  Not only can you drag and drop your photo directly from your desktop, you can also select the area of the photo you wish to use, much as with re-sizing Facebook thumbnails:


Your end result — however the shape of the original — has to be a perfect square…


That’s all there is to creating your page!  (Took you just a few minutes, right?)

“But Wait… There’s More…”

If you stop at simply having created your Page, however, you’ll be disappointed in the results.  Even at this early Beta stage, there are a few vital tips and tricks that can significantly push your sites and Page up through Google search results.  Number one you’ve already taken care of — you’ve created the +Page.  Now you will need to amplify its power by installing a +1 Button on your site, so people can “vote” for you.  This includes not just subscribers and followers, but members of the general public who happen to organically find your site — helped by your strong Google+ listings, of course.

You see, Google+ Pages with real clout automatically open at the actual Page, if searchers are savvy enough to type “+YourName or Keyword” in the Google search box (Direct Connect)…


You can tell at a glance if a search parameter auto-connect and open up an existing Google+ Page:  The Page graphic and tagline will instantly appear in the drop-down Suggestions.  If you hit “Enter” on seeing such a result, that Google+ Page opens up.

The flaw?  Not all existing Google+ Pages open up or even show up, even if they exist!  However, you can weight your newly-created +Page to rise through the ranks and be eligible for Direct Connect by ensuring you employ a few simple strategies…

Step One:  Be Ready to Share!

As you finish creating your page, you’ll be given the option to share it.  Make sure you are prepared and ready to go.


(Google really does make it easy for you to cover many of the bases!)

 Step Two:  Setting Up your Google +1 Button

The number one key strategy lies in setting up a Google+1 button on all your websites; then publicizing the fact you have one and directing people with a call to action to “like” it.  (Don’t detract from the value of Google +1 buttons, however, by using emotional coercion, or +1 buttons will soon sink to the level of Facebook’s value-less “Like” buttons.)

Setting up your button and choosing the icon size is simple, and you don’t need step-by-step instructions.  It consists of:

  1.     Grabbing a snippet of JavaScript code. (Install this anywhere on your site.)
  2.      Scrolling further down that page and customizing the HTML code generated.
  3.      Insert the generated code in your web page at the spot you want your +1 button to appear


What the +1 button actually does is:

  • Help people discover “relevant content” (including ads) — from personal recommendations
  • Display your own profile photo, when you “like” a +1 button on someone else’s Page, site or Circle.  (You can choose to “hide” this, if you prefer.)
  • Allows others to recommend your own sites or Page
  • Allows others to see which of their own friends and connections has also personally endorsed your listings
  • Allows others to see how many +1 ratings you’ve received.  (You can customize this not to show, if your business, website and/or Page is brand new.)
  • Increases your sites’ relevance and value in Google’s eyes, upping your SEO status and rank
  • Increase your visibility and prominence in search results

Remember, however, that any page or site you add +1 to will be public — even if your Robots.txt file or WordPress blog settings are set for “nofollow”.

Step Three:  Enabling Google+ Circles

This area of Google+ already plays a big part in Google+ Page engagement and promises to grow in importance, so you might want to adjust your settings to automatically add Pages to your own Circles.  Here’s how to do it…

  1.     Click your profile picture in your Google+ menu bar, at the top of your page
  2.     Select “Account Settings”
  3.     Select “Google+”

Scroll to the bottom and customize your “Google+ Pages” settings

Here is where updating your page with fresh content really becomes part of a vital strategy.

Step Four:  Creating a Badge

Creating a Google+ Badge for your site is not the same as creating a +1 button, so don’t confuse the two.  You can simultaneously create your badge and your page; or you can copy-paste your page URL into the box provided:


Continuing down the page, you will select the size of badge you prefer…



This is the ultimate goal you are aiming for, when it comes to boosting your Google+ and Google+ Page rankings.  Google freely admits eligibility is “determined algorithmically”, based on:

Step Five:  Google+ Direct Connect

  • Relevance
  • Popularity

The most crucial defining factor is the number of links between your site and Google+ Page.   If you have followed the previous steps, you are already well on your way to becoming eligible.  All you need to do is:

Regularly interact with Google+, supplying relevant contact (Links, posts, keywords)

  • Pay diligent attention to ensuring your content is not only relevant, but original and valuable too
  • Educate your audience (especially those you network with) about Direct Connect and how it works.  They’ll particularly need to know that the option to sign into Google+ so they can add your page to their Circles is only offered the first time they visit your Page — after that it has to be added manually, which reduces the chance they’ll do so

Once Google perceives your value, you stand a much better chance of being admitted to the hallowed halls of Direct Connect.

This brings us to our last step (until Google+ rolls out more features)…

 Step Six:  Promote Your Google+ Page!

Television long ago learned the secret to engaging viewers and netting high conversions:  Namely, spelling out the obvious and telling viewers exactly what to do next.

And just as TV ads also employ the principle of repetition, you must realize that promoting your +Page is an ongoing responsibility.

Here’s how you can encourage your visitors and subscribers to spread the word:

  1.        Share your posts — but remember, even if you share a post from your Google+ Page, those in your Circle will actually see it as coming from your Profile.) And keep your content as consistent as your daily involvement:  Remember your main area of focus and use your best keywords, as naturally as possible.
  2.       Link your Page and your website or blog.  You may think you’ve already done this, if you’ve installed your Google+ Button on your site — but it’s actually a two-step process, to be effective:  You also have to add your site to your Profile!

Here’s how to do it, using a current browser such as Google Chrome…

  • In your browser, find your picture and select it (the top right corner)
  • Select “Profile”


  • In your Profile, select the “About” tab


  • Select “Links” and then “Add a Custom Link”
  • Enter (a) a Title (b) your URL
  • Save
TIP: Don’t skip this step — it’s currently the only way to ensure your site becomes eligible for Direct Connect.

 

 

  1.      Link your Google+ Page to your AdWords campaigns — Do it by making sure you include your +1 button in your ads.
  2.      Post Consistently — Regular updates and fresh content will add to your Google value. This will help build a firmer foundation for your +Page

Along the way, as you grow more familiar with your Google+ Profile and Page, you’ll discover other ways you can help boost your +Page popularity:  Enabling Google+ for Mobile (if you have the right type of phone, for example; as well as joining the Preview Platform so you can receive advance improvements ahead of the crowd.

Become familiar with the refinements available through Google Support Plus.  Be sure also to actively report bugs and provide feedback to Google+ (as well as never promoting your Page with the same dirty-pool, emotional blackmailing techniques that Facebook users quickly learned to employ).

The more you engage and bring quality to your Google+ Page, the more directly you will be rewarded in Google SEO.

It’s true that “you get out of it what you put in” — but fortunately with Google+ Pages, these six basic steps provide a solid foundation to help you easily and effectively get started.

Understanding Google+ Business Pages

Google+_screenshot

Exciting times at Google

— not only have they just released Google+ to the public in open Beta (working model), but they’ve now added Google+ Business Pages.

So how can you, as an internet entrepreneur, take advantage of this new internet resource… and should you?  Before you rush to set up a page, it may help to take a look at the pros and cons…

Comparing Facebook Pages with Google+ Business Pages

 

Google+ is still very much in beta mode.  Its Pages feature has only just been launched, so any comparison with Facebook pages will probably be redundant by the time you read this, since new features are being added to Pages on an ongoing basis.

 

 


Your biggest reason for setting up a Business Page in Google+ should be not only to take advantage of powerful Google SEO, but to reach targeted customers or clients who hate and avoid Facebook — and this number is growing daily, thanks to Facebook changes such as the inability to prevent Facebook from broadcasting what you are doing online, moment by moment!

Facebook’s relevance is also taking a downslide at the moment, thanks to all the changes it recently instituted.  Friends are “disappearing” thanks to involuntary settings changes (and most aren’t even aware you now can’t see them).  Irrelevant posts seem to be on the increase.  And there’s generally a lot of confusion.

The worst part about Facebook pages?  “Out of sight, out of mind”, says V. A., Isobel Henderson.  “You really like somebody’s page, but then you get busy, and forget they have it.  Seems like you have to manually visit a page, to connect with it again, and that means making a conscious effort.  Who has the time?  Too busy!”

Early reactions gleaned from the net about Google+ Business Pages:

  • “Google+ page is way better, simple and clean than Facebook pages”
  • “Stop comparing them: G+ is not Facebook.”
  • “I think the positive thing is actually that the Google+ IS SO SIMPLE AND USER FRIENDLY to users and customers. Google gets what maybe only Apple gets also… No stupid irrelevant stuff.”
  • “The biggest disadvantage I see to the Facebook Business page is that I don’t use Facebook. So if the WWE wants to reach me socially, they’re going to have to do it through G+ regardless of how uncluttered it is.”
  • “If you like the big mess in FB, maybe is because you live that way. I don´t need a bunch of ads in my screen. I like to choose whom I want to follow and from [whom] I want info. FB to me, is a bunch of teens shouting the world they´re there. I really hope that G+ never turns into another Facebook. Maybe FB need to learn a lot from G+.”
  • “The addition of Pages will be a big boost in G+ usage IMHO.  I know I’ll likely be using G+ a lot more now that I am finally able to set up a Page.  For personal use though, all my family and friends are on FB, not G+, so G+ holds little to no value for me in that respect.”
  • “I really love how Google allows for non-profits to set up a Page!”


  • “…NASA got amazingly cool timing because of the asteroid coming towards earth has gotten lots of coverage and NASA’s profile already is very useful source on that topic. The interaction is amazing in Google+ especially because the You Tube interaction is so relevant often on discussion about recent news and future news.”

The underlying point of these comments seems to be that Facebook is losing control and turning into another MySpace or Yahoo.  In fact, seeing “disturbing or controversial Yahoo headline links” appended to peoples’ posts is the reason two business acquaintances of mine have recently “switched” from Facebook to Google+ in the last week alone.


“You can’t switch [Yahoo headlines] off or `hide’ them, the way you used to be able to hide posts from sources you didn’t like,” explained one.  Commented the other:  “Well, you can switch them off — but Yahoo posts enable themselves again immediately.”

Given the changing currents of social networking, why not set up your Google+ Business Page while it’s still simple to do so?  Who knows — maybe getting in on the ground floor will enable you to retain early features you like that are later “grandfathered” (like those animated profile photos on Twitter that a few people still cling to, but the rest of us now can’t create — even supposing we were animators, which would make them highly relevant!)

 Which Network Is For You?

 

One other factor to take into account, when deciding whether or not to invest time in setting up Google+ Pages — one often doesn’t use social networks to directly attract clients or customers.  It’s usually more about networking.

Current buzz seems to indicate that there’s a shift in Facebook as the primary network.  LinkedIn has gained serious ground… and so has Google+.

Among the items at Inside GPlus, you can see frequently-updated results measuring the comparative popularity of Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter.  (Be sure to add GPlus to your circle. You’ll find lots of real-time tracking feedback there.)

While everything is in a state of flux, why not set up pages on both Facebook and Google+… then see which one brings you the strongest results?

 What You Need to Know about Google+ Business Pages

 

Before you rush to do that, however, here’s the lowdown on what you can expect…

 

  1. Setting up your Google+ Page is currently an easy process, and will take you only a few minutes
  2. You need to have a Google account.  If you don’t already have one, you can create one right now or when you go    to create your page
  3. You can type “+” in front of any company name and instantly get a listing of their Pages
  4. Google pages are linked with Google search, which provide a one-key shortcut to Google+ Pages within the query box
  5. It integrates with Google+ Circles, making Page sharing easy
  6. You can create multiple Google+ Pages, if you have more than one business
  7. There are “lots” of “improvements” slated in the near future for Google+ Pages, according to Vic Gundotra, senior VP of engineering
  8. Google+ Pages are ideal for branding, since Branding has its own separate category

As with any new beta network, Google+ still has some glitches, as well as a way to go towards seamless web power and integration.  Here are seven of the most reported problems you might encounter or need to prepare for (and circumvent, when possible)…

Current Google+ Drawbacks

 

  1. Vanity URLs — Google states flatly that vanity URLs will not be available for Pages.  They offer instead “verification badges”, but these are not comparable to vanity URLs, since they operate as “security mechanisms”, not identifiers.

 You cannot apply for a verification badge:  Google decides whether or not you merit one and arbitrarily awards   them at their pleasure.

Verification badges are Google’s way of letting searchers know that “a site is legitimate”.  The motivation for creating them is eliminate impersonation — but since Google arbitrarily decides who is legitimate, there is a risk of an impersonator receiving the verification badge.

  1. Multiple Page Managers — Says Google, “Currently, only one person can own, post as, and edit a page.”  You can now create multiple Business and Branding pages, but if you have already set up a page for a company you work for that is owned by someone else and want to transfer ownership (since maintaining it means the company would have access to your gmail and Google account), this would cause a problem:  Ownership cannot be transferred.

The current fix?  Delete the page and create a new one.  But Google is making noises about the ability to transfer ownership “coming soon”.

  1. Google Places Integration — Right now, there is no integration, but it’s vital to keep your Google Places updated and current if geo-targeting is part of your marketing strategy, since if the information is there, Google will use it (current or not).  It’s up to you to make sure Google is not using outdated data:  Keeping Places current means local search and Google Maps will be accurately displayed.

Google does plan to integrate the two, in future.

  1. Google Login — Do be careful, when operating from Google+.  Make sure you don’t post miscellaneous content on your actual Google+ page, if you have different logins for you and your company.  Already many people have been careless, and admitted to getting egg on their faces by posting to the wrong area under the wrong login.

Google is public.  And that can be a drawback, as well as a plus — no pun intended.  (N.B.:  It will even “ignore” robots.txt file “no follow” instructions.)

  1. Google Apps — You can’t currently add apps to your Google+ page.  But it’s not clairvoyance to predict that will change fairly soon.
  2. Google+ Confusion — One problem many people seem to have is confusing their Google+ Profile with their Google+ Page.  Knowing the differences between your + Profile and your + Page should help you manage each with more confidence…

  3. Button Error Warnings — This problem only seems to occur on pages with a secure “https:” designation; also on older browsers, so do test your new button-optimized page in an older one too.  If your “https:” site generates an error message or warning, first look at the snippet of code Google gave you, when you created your button.  Make sure your button code actually uses “https:” too.  (Currently, automatically generated code always assumes your site page begins with “http:”)

Correcting the code snippet usually does the trick. If your page is still generating warnings on search, make sure your site contains this script:

<script src="//apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script>

You can find these tips (and many others) in the Google+ Help section.

Now let’s take a look at current Google+ advantages — particularly as they apply to Google+ Pages…

 Current Google+ Advantages

 

  1. Google +1 Button — One of your biggest potential advantages in creating a Google+ Page will lie in Google’s latest feature, the “+1″ button.

 It can’t really be compared to Facebook’s “Like” button, but since you will most likely do that anyway, here’s a quick overview of the differences between the two features…


 The end result of the way Facebook’s “Like” button is set up has resulted in a lack of respect for “Like” results: Everyone knows that a good portion of those “Likes” were not truly value-driven. People pressed the “Like” button to support friends, gain networking favor or because misleading ads triggered them with emotional wording. For example, “Everyone who likes Harry Potter, Like us” — this seen on an ad that led to a site that had nothing to do with Harry Potter — but with Google’s +1 button, there is no artificial weighting. It’s set up so that people press it because they truly like the content.

Granted, you can up the chances of gaining +1 endorsements by educating your website visitors, social network followers and email subscribers about the existence of the Google +1 button, but everyone is soon going to be totally familiar with it.

And only add it to public pages (accessible to everyone).

  1. Google+ Badges — Not to be confused with the Verification badge! You can easily add a Google+ badge to your website(s) via a simple process you’ll be walked through when you create your page.

You can choose between several styles of badge: Standard badge, Small badge, Small icon, Medium icon, Large icon and No Badge.  The Medium Icon is shown below…


If you know you will speedily generate a number of approvals via your +1 icon or badge and have multiple pages or sites, you may wish to choose the standard badge:


  1. Google+ Direct Connect – This feature is already making a difference to the effectiveness of searching Google+ pages — though, right now, it seems to not always work.  All you do to access Direct Connect is type a plus sign before the company name you wish to connect with:  For example:


You will then be taken directly to YouTube’s Google+ page, instead of to all the search listings available.  (If you only want search listings, don’t type the “+” in front of the name, of course.)

 You’ll see the page like this:


You can add that particular page immediately to your circles, as well as easily share it, via the “Share this page” button…


Google admits there are some problems at this time with Direct Connect, but quickly states it hopes to make the option fully functional as soon as possible.

  1. Google+ for Mobile  – Apps are provided for several main devices, including the Android, iPhone and Blackberry. Although not specifically geared for Google+ pages yet, the fact that people can share and access Google+ via mobile automatically increases its value

How to Increase Your Google+ Page Value

 

In spite of the fact various features are glitchy or not yet active, you can increase your Google+ Page value (especially with Direct Connect by cross-connecting.  All this means is:

  • Placing the Google+ badge or icon on your site
  • Adding your website link to your page

Other ways you can increase your +Page value:

  • Actively use Google Hangouts (video chat drop-in)
  • Maintain a daily presence via Google+
  • Update and add to your Google Circles
  • Upload YouTube videos and post the links on your page and websites
  • Upload videos to Google+ and share them via your page:

  • Move your Google+ Page fans directly into your Circles.  (This seems to create automatic engagement!)
  • Make sure you have a Circle named “Following”
  • Make sure your site contains the “+1″ button, as well as your badge or icon.  (This will require a separate snippet of code to that of badges/icons.)
  • Publicize your page.  Share it with your Circles and Hangouts.  Share it on social networks and in your blog posts and forum posts.  Include it as part of your contact information
  • Upload photos, as well as videos.  (GPlus offers some interesting statistics about Google+ photo uploads.)
  • Educate your readers, subscribers and visitors.  Remember the Golden Rule of marketing:  S-p-e-l-l  things out and include calls to action (telling your readers what to do next)
  • Remember that although Google+ Pages may “feel like Facebook”, they do have the huge advantage — and disadvantage — of open search via Google.  Follow the tips in this report to ensure Google ranks your page as highly as possible!

Remember:  The more active you are via Google+, the higher value Google’s algorithm currently seems to ascribe.

Google Adwords Advantage

 

If you use AdWords PPC advertising, you’ll love this further way to boost your Google+ page rank and garner more “likes”.  Google has enabled AdWords so that people can +1 your Page, right from your ad — so be the +1 button is included within your ad.

Google+ Platform Preview

 

Another way to boost your value to Google’s search algorithm (and indirectly boost your Page status):  Join the Platform Preview for advance news and information about upcoming changes and features.

Becoming a member of Platform Preview puts you on a “preferred” list, enabling you to automatically preview all the latest changes, features and updates to Google+ (including your Google+ page) before the rest of the world has access.

You can customize your contact options, from viewing the group on the web only to receiving daily emails, if you prefer… but note that you must use a Gmail address, if you want any previews to work.

Google+ For Your Blog

 

Yes, you can create a separate Google+ Page for your blog — even if it’s on Blogger and not hosted on your own separate WordPress site.

Branding Via Your Google+ Page

 

Opinions are currently split on how effective Google+ Pages are going to be, when it comes to branding your business.

For starters, currently only one person (with one login) can manage a Brand page and it’s attached to one account.  Sure, you can give people the login information — but if you’ve set it up with your personal login, you most likely won’t want them to have access to all your Google activities!

Do read the Google Page Terms of Service before setting up your Brand page.  It sets out explicitly what you can and cannot do.  Here is just one small section…


Another tip:  Don’t work with both your personal account and your Brand account within the same browser.  Ideally, it’s best to:

  • Manage each on separate browsers
  • Completely log out of one, before accessing the other

If branding is your primary purpose for creating a Google+ Page, do make sure you select “Product or Brand” as your Page Category:


Finally, do remember to actively use Circles to connect with other Brand pages (so they will +1 your own).

 Upcoming Google+ Page Features

 

Among some of the improvements Google says it is planning, you can look forward to integrating:

  • Analytics
  • Documents
  • Maps
  • Places

(But still no vanity URLs!)

It’s important to remember that Google+ Pages for business, brands and non-profits are still brand new and very much in a Beta state (as is Google+ itself).  But getting in on the ground floor will help your Page rank soar while others are still waking up to all Google+’s possibilities.

To your success!

How to Set Up Your Google+ Account

google-plus 1Once you’re signed up on Google+, how do you actually setup your account? In this guide, you’ll learn how to add information to your profile, how to choose who can see what, how to set your notification preferences and how to link up other social networks to your Google+ account.

Step 1: Accessing Your Settings

 

To get to your settings page, click on the “Settings” dropdown button in the top right.

 


Click on “Google+ Settings.”


Step 2: Add a Phone Number to your Google+ Account

 

Adding a phone number allows Google to send you a text whenever you get a notification. To add a phone number, type in your mobile number, then click “Send Verification Code.”

You’ll need to get the code from your phone and enter it into Google+ before you can receive notifications.


Step 3: Choosing Your Notifications

 

When do you want to receive an email or text from Google+? Use the checkboxes to select when you do and don’t want to get notifications.


Step 4: Set Your Image Preferences

 

There are two main settings you can set with images.

The first is whether or not you want geographical location information to be tagged onto your photos. Most modern cameras, including the iPhone and Android cameras now tag geographical information onto photos.

If you check the “Show photo geo location information” box, Google+ will automatically add the geo location tag to your photos.


Your other choice is who gets to automatically have their photos approved. Approved photos show up on your profile. Use the blue drop-down box and the “Add more people” button to choose who can post photos of you and have them approved automatically.

Step 5: Access the Profile Edit Page

 

To edit your profile, click on “Profile and privacy.”


Then click on your profile.


Click on “Edit Profile.”


Step 6: Editing Your Personal Information

Fill out your introduction, things you’re proud of, occupation, employment, education and places lived information.


Then fill out your contact information, relationship status, gender and alternate names.


Step 7: Safeguarding Your Personal Information

 

Google+ makes it very easy to choose who can see what personal information. When you click on a field to enter your information, below it is a privacy setting button.

Just click on the button to choose exactly who can see the information you type in.


Step 8: Connect Other Social Networks

 

If you want to link other social networks to your Google+ profile, start by going back to the settings page and clicking “Connected accounts.”


You’ll immediately see a list of accounts that Google+ thinks belongs to you, based on Google+ searching the various social networks.

If you see any accounts that do indeed belong to you, just click the “Yes this is my” button to link the account.


If you need to add the account manually, just click “Connect an account” then select the specific type of account you want to add.


Then enter your username on that site or a direct link to your profile on that site.


Click “Add” and the account will be linked to Google+.

Congratulations! You’ve just setup your Google+ account. You’ve learned how to add a phone number, how to set notifications, how to setup your profile, how to adjust your privacy settings and how to link other social networks.

How to Use Google+ for Business

Google+ is the new social network launched by Google. It’s the fastest social network to take off in history, with over ten million members just a couple months after launching. It already has over a billion pageviews per month. [Read more...]