Social networking sites have quickly become a prime mover in the way that the public interacts with online content. Initially, My Space, Beebo, and even the earliest incarnations of Facebook, simply concentrated on making interaction amongst their users easy and fun. But it wasn’t long before the potential of social networking was recognized by SEO’s and Webmasters alike, and they began to turn their attention to finding ways of using social networking as a force to drive traffic to their websites. The most recent entry in the social networking sweepstakes is Google+, Google’s answer to the growing popularity of social sharing sites like Facebook and Pinterest. While it may seem that Google+ was slow to take off, make no mistake – it is here to stay. More and more internet users are creating Google+ accounts, and now is the time to optimize your websites to take maximum advantage of what the newest social networking site has to offer.
Set Up a Google+ Account
The easiest part of optimizing your websites for any social networking site is to set up a business account with the service. While Google+ initially held off on allowing its users to set up business accounts, the field is now wide open. Google, quite rightly, wanted to establish the site first and foremost as a meeting place for its users. While that delayed the introduction of business entities to the site, it allowed Google+ to establish itself as a vibrant community. A community that is now ripe and ready to share interesting and valuable online content. Brand restrictions have long since been lifted, and it is now extremely fast and easy for businesses to set up a Google+ account.
Google+ circles are the essence of the site’s networking structure. Users can include friends and family, as well as websites and businesses with whom they want to stay connected. It’s through these circles that users share information. For businesses, creating a network of circles can be tricky, and will take some time. Begin by getting as many people in your circles as possible, especially people within your industry. This can include competitors, industry bloggers, employees and local and online customers. While there’s no way to get people to put your business into their circles until they want to, linking to other people within the industry can give you more visibility. Sooner than later you will see people adding your company to their circles, and you’ll be on your way. Do not attempt to buy, or barter, for Google+ fans and friends. You’ll only fall foul of Google’s search filters, and the Google+ exercise will backfire on you.
Content and Keywords
Once you have joined Google+, and have built up a circle of fans and followers, it is important to make regular posts. Creating an account is only a small part of the equation. Create valuable posts, and issue them on a regular basis. It can also be helpful to time your Google+ posts with relevant national and world events. If you can tie the events naturally to your blog or website, you can take advantage of the increased search traffic regarding the event.
Even on a social networking site like Google+ content is king. You want to provide the people in your circles will valuable information. You need to give them entertaining and useful content that they find interesting, and that they’ll ultimately want to share with their own fans and friends. Keywords are still a strong component of any online content, but you want to use them organically. Avoid stuffing your Google+ posts with keywords to the detriment of the content itself. Google’s filters flag low value content, and even social networking posts should give good value.
Add a +1 Button
Bloggers and online retailers are increasingly adding ‘share’ and ‘like’ buttons to their websites. This allows users to immediately share content with their circle of friends. It also allows users to highlight content they react to positively. Google’s search filters use this data as a way of evaluating the value of online content, and the more ‘+1’s’ a blog or website receives the more valuable they appear to search engine algorithms. Be sure to add a Google +1 button to all of your blog posts and web pages to encourage visitors to share the content with their own network of friends and fans. Not only will it raise your profile amongst your visitors, it will show the search engine filters that your online content is considered valuable and pertinent and that it is being regularly shared with other users.
Joining Google+, or any other social networking site, will not immediately bring you higher page rankings. But it is a good way to connect with your online audience, and to provide a constant stream of information to the people most interested in your business or website. Social networking is here to stay, and smart SEO’s and webmasters will want to take advantage of all it has to offer.