Google Plus: The Power is the People
While I frequently use multiple social networks, I’d have to say that Google Plus has become my network of choice. I love the microblogging format, the active moderated communities and the rich conversations and relationships I’ve built with other users on the network.
I wanted to share a posting guide that will assist users in getting familiar with the functionality of the tool and provide tips to help you create, share, engage and have fun on Google Plus. This guide will not only make your sharing more effective, but assist you in leveraging the network’s greatest feature: the users.
Posting on Google Plus
While not as flexible as a blog, Google+ does provide its users with different options for creating, styling and sharing posts.
1. Google Plus users have the option to add a high quality photo into a post either by dragging and dropping photos into the post from your computer, uploading a photo from your computer or selecting an image from Google Plus photos which has already been uploaded or shared on your Google Plus account.
Many “Plussers” have discovered the “Pinterest effect” happening on Google+. In a small experiment conducted by Dustin W. Stout, he found that using a photo image instead of a link when creating a post resulted in higher +1’s and reshares. Using the photo option to add a full size, high quality image is a great way to make your posts stand out and capture the attention of your audience. For any photos that you share that are not your own, make sure you have the full permission from the original creator.
2. Users have the option to share URLs by clicking the link icon and adding or dragging a link into the share box. While this type of sharing may not be as visually engaging as sharing a high quality, full size photo, there are other “SEO” benefits from this type of sharing as Google+ will automatically make links shared in this box a followed link which will pass link equity back to the destination page. It’s also important to note that all +1s and reshares will pass through to the original post (more on this in a minute). Links shared in the body of the post through a link or image share automatically have a nofollow attribute added to them.
Does it Matter if my Links Are Nofollow?
Google still relies heavily on links and its link graph to evaluate the authority of a webpage, website or other profile. More authoritative websites and web properties may have a better chance at receiving increased visibility in Google’s results pages for relevant search queries.
How Will Sharing Multiple Links in a Post Affect The Attribution Chain?
We’ve learned how different types of link sharing on Google Plus can result in a followed or nofollow link, but did you know that multiple links shared in a image post will break the +1 and reshare attribution chain?
In this context, we can define the attribution chain as any +1s or reshares of a Google+ post that will pass through and be counted on the social sharing buttons on the destination URL.
Here’s a breakdown that describes different sharing scenarios and how each will affect the +1 and reshare attribution back to a shared link:
- A link share (links shared in the link box) will pass all +1s and reshares through to the destination URL.
- A link share with additional links included in the post will pass all +1s and reshares through to the link shared in the share box.
- Image posts with a single link will pass all +1s and reshares through to the destination URL.
- Image posts with multiple links will break the attribution chain and not pass any +1s or reshares back to the shared links.
Previously it was possible to publish a Google+ post, edit the post, add more links and the attribution would still pass through to the original link.
In November, I noticed that for image posts where I was editing and adding additional links after publishing the post, the +1s and reshares weren’t passing through to the original link and increasing the +1 count on my social sharing buttons. After some small scale testing, I discovered that by removing the additional links, all new +1s I received on the post started passing back through to the resource destination URL in the post.
Google Plus Video Sharing
3. Google Plus provides the option to attach videos to posts when sharing. Users can add a video URL by clicking on the link icon or can access the following video sharing options by clicking on the video icon:
- Search for a video – This option includes the YouTube search bar which makes finding and sharing videos on YouTube easy.
- Enter a URL – If you have the URL to a video, simply paste it in the form field.
- Your YouTube videos – Share an existing video from a connected YouTube channel.
- Record video – Immediately create and share a new video.
- Upload video – Upload a new video directly from your computer.
Google+ Video Sharing Tip
While it’s not possible to control the start or stop time of a YouTube video that you’ve shared in a post, it is possible to add a specific time cue in your post e.g. ‘1:40,’ that will create a link that will direct readers to that point in the video you’ve shared.
Notice below in the embedded post, I reference the time in the video where Matt Cutts mentions PageRank – click read more and see “PageRank reference ‘0:36′” at the bottom of the post.
4. Google+ users can easily create and share events in posts by clicking on the Event icon, selecting the type of Event you’d like to create in Event options and completing the form fields. Google+ events can be hangouts, events on air, connected to Hangouts On Air, customized with different themes and will also allow event guests to add photos and videos to the event.
Google+ has provided us with a few formatting tools for text when creating your posts including bold, strikethrough and italics. To view they styling guide, click Read more in the embedded post below.
Now that we’ve covered the different options for sharing and styling posts, let’s review how to format posts for engagement.
Hook Your Readers
Writing a catchy a headline and making it bold using asterisks (*Your Catchy Headline*) is a great way to attract attention. To keep your headling from spilling on to the second line of your post, try to keep it under 60 characters. It’s important to note that Google+ will automatically make your headline the title element of your post. Google+ will show the first three lines of a post before displaying Read more, so make sure that these first two sentences of your post are compelling and leave the reader wanting more.
Google+ Posting Tip – Hashtag Search
With the introduction of Google hashtag search, adding hashtags can now significantly increase the visibility of your Google+ posts. Add hashtags to your post by typing the hashtag (#) symbol, followed by the topic of the post. Google+ will suggest popular hashtags or may add one to your post if you forget or choose not to manually add a hashtag, Google may add one for you.
Use hashtag search to discover users and new posts surrounding your interests being shared on Google+. The new feature is another move by Google to incorporate its social network into its other products and services.
Bring Other Google+ Users Into Conversations
Notifications are a great way to bring other users into the conversation. It’s generally considered good etiquette to notify the author or original creator of a post you’re sharing or to provide a hat tip (h/t) to a user who originally shared a post that you’ve also shared.
To notify another user that they’ve been mentioned by you, enter the @ sign in your post and start typing the users name. Google+ will do its best to find the user you’re looking for but may not display the person you want to mention. When this happens, you can manually find the user using your search bar, copy their 21-digit profile Google+ URL and add a + sign in front of the URL e.g. (+https://plus.google.com/100708209354527166980).
Google+ users can also share posts with friends that don’t have profiles on Google+ by entering their email after the ‘+’ or ‘@’ signs in your post.
Google Plus Influencers
In order to start making friends and building relationships, you’ll need to engage with other users. I’d start by circling and getting to know a few of the these “Power Plussers:”
- Martin Shervington
- Mark Traphagen
- Peg Fitzpatrick
- Jaana Nystrom
- Guy Kawasaki
- John Skeats
- Denis Labelle
- Michael Bennett
Following these users’ feeds will be a good way to keep a pulse on new content, to get a feel for how and what types of content they are sharing and to see who’s engaging with their posts.
Relationships are the foundation of Google+ and building them requires engagement. A good way to find other users with similar interests is to join related communities and actively share and contribute to discussions happening within them. You’ll find (and enjoy) that many popular communities on Google+ are heavily moderated to keep out spam and link dropping.
Sharing on Communities
Sharing posts on communities is a way to meet and interact with other community members. As with all of your posts on Google Plus, follow formatting best practices and try to incite meaningful discussion by ending your post with a question. It never hurts to mention or “Ping” specific community members you feel the post is relevant to so that they can also contribute to the discussion.
Google Plus Community Sharing Tip
Sharing the same or similar content within a short period of time may cause Google to flag your post as possible spam. In communities, this means that your post will not be made visible and added to a flagged posts page for community moderators to review for quality. If there is content that you’d like to share with your own followers and also with another community, wait a day or two to spread out your sharing and create a new message tailored for each audience and community that you share with.
Tools to Help You Become an All-star on Google Plus
Now that we’ve discussed best practices for creating and sharing great posts, let’s talk about a few tools to help make you a more efficient Plusser.
Jing is a screenshot and screencast tool that allows you to capture images and short videos from your computer screen. Jing is my go-to tool for capturing images, as it allows for you to format your captures by adding arrows and lines for anything you’d like to bring to a viewer’s attention.
When sharing URLs using the photo option, you’ll often want to include links back to a resource that’s relevant to the photo. Full URLs can often be intrusive and disrupt the flow of your post. Using a URL shortening tool like Google’s URL shortening service or bit.ly is a good way to keep your post from looking cluttered and also allows you to track the clicks you receive on each shortened URL.
One benefit from sharing posts on Google+ is that Google considers all content you share on the platform as coming from a verified author (you) and shows you how your posts performed in Google’s results pages in Author stats. To access your personal Author stats, sign into your Google Webmaster Tools account and navigate to Labs > Author stats. Here you’ll find the organic search performance including the impressions, clicks, click-through-rate (CTR) and average ranking position of the page. The arrows in the image below are pointing to Google+ posts that I’ve shared.
One tool that I use to schedule and share posts is Do Share. Do Share is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to format, schedule and share posts directly from the tool. I love the scheduling feature as it allows to me share a post at peak posting times (more on this later) and also the Send to Drafts feature which allows me to save and gradually work on a post over a period of time before sharing. Do Share also allows you to use the tool directly in Google+.
Sharing at the Right Times on Google Plus
We’ve already covered how sharing with communities, post formatting and mentioning is a great way to increase visibility and encourage engagement, but what about posting time? Testing has shown that posts shared between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. during the work week typically have the highest visibility.
What are Google+ Ripples?
Google+ Ripples are an interactive data visualization graphic that can be viewed on any users post that’s shared publicly. Users can view how a post spread, or rippled across Google+ by clicking on the dropdown menu on the right hand side of a publicly shared Google+ post.
How to use Google+ Ripples to Increase the Reach of Your Posts
In addition to using Ripples as a social measurement tool, it’s also is a smart way to identify users or influencers who have significantly increased the reach of posts through resharing. Relationships are the cornerstone of Google+. Interacting, engaging and building relationships can help you build a solid foundation which will increase the reach and visibility of your shared content on the network.
I Still Have Questions About Certain Features on Google+