Google has become a verb by capturing roughly two-thirds of all search traffic. Understanding Google+ is just as important to the person ‘Googling’, as the bloggers that want to be found by these searches. I have just recently started digging into Google+ to learn the ins and outs.
Use Google+ To Find Information Faster
Google Plus is many things to many people, but my goal is to help you understand how its power affects search results. Google Plus is one part LinkedIn, one part Twitter, and one part FaceBook, with it’s own differentiating feature set. The features and definitions that we care about today are:
- Circles: These are groups that you can create, and will mostly use to organize your connections and control ‘the volume’ of each circle independently.
- Google +1: You recommend this content on Google Search and want to share it on Google+.
- Google Share: Perfect for content that users may want to share but not +1 (e.g. news or controversial content).
When it comes to search results, think of Google+ as a layer on top of Google that knows who you have put into a ‘circle of trust’. If you are signed in when you search on Google, it gives their content a higher rank in your search results than it would have otherwise – especially if they have done their part to establish Google authorship. The content of people in your circles will have a little silhouette to the left of the search result.
Many of my searches are for content related to SQL Server and Business Intelligence. So, I have gone through and added as many of the top minds in my field as possible to one of my circles. And, I have done this not only to strengthen my connection to them, but to ensure their posts get higher scores when I am looking for help (ie, I have to weed through fewer results to find those I trust). As a reader, you can start helping yourself right away by:
- Signing up for Google+ and signing in.
- Starting to create circles and adding people you trust to those circles (don’t forget to include me).
- Help others filter out the noise (bad content), by making sure good content rises higher in search results. You can do this by finding and clicking the Google +1 button.
Many content providers are creating content because they are trying to help you. A simple way for you to return the favor is to publicly recommend their work.
Use Google+ To Get Found and Increase Engagement
Google Authorship establishes a direct link between authors and their content and is the means by which the photo of an author appears next to their work in Google search results. When the planets align correctly, search results for my content look like this:
You can see that right now I’m only in 39 circles, which tells you that I’ve haven’t been active on Google+ in the past – I need to fix that. Establishing Google Authorship looks easy, but my photo still doesn’t show up next to all of my blog posts. As a matter of fact, Google cautions that it doesn’t guarantee that your picture will show up next to all search results. However, here is one of the many posts that discuss how this small change to your blog can get big results. And, if it isn’t working, you will find troubleshooting steps from Google Support.
Now that you have your Google Authorship established, the next step is finding a plugin or widget that will make it easy for your audience to spread the word about your work. I would like to provide a recommendation, but I’m still working on that part myself. Please share your advice to other authors in the comments, or even better yet, via a Google Share (with a +1, of course).