Google+ may be a newer social network, but it's a powerful one.
In fact, after launching a little more than two years ago, it is now the second-largest social media network (behind Facebook).
So, why are so many users confused about how to use Google+? The fact is if you're like most people on Google+, you're still a little confused about the site.
What should you do?
Here's a list of some of the most common mistakes users make on Google+. If you examine these errors and avoid them, you'll set yourself up to be ahead of the pack.
1. You haven't optimized your profile.
Completing your profile is Google+ 101.
When you add your name, bio, photo and other information to your profile, you let other users know who you are and how they can identify you. This not only encourages connection, but reinforces your brand.
To make the most of your profile, optimize it with keywords relevant to your industry. Likewise, include relevant links throughout your about page, from the "introduction" to the "website" section.
Look at my profile as an example:
- Completed tagline
- Keyword-rich introduction
- Contact information
Also optimize your profile by listing all of the sites where your writing or content appears.
2. You never post.
You gain the most exposure on Google+ when you post regularly.
Fresh content keeps you current in your contacts' feeds and makes you seem relevant. Likewise, posting regularly benefits search engine optimization. It improves your results when users search for content related to what you share.
[RELATED: Master essential social media tools at Mark Ragan's one-day social media boot camp.]
3. You share links without commentary.
Dumping links does nothing for you or your followers. In fact, it makes you look like a blowhard and someone not worth following.
Of course you want to share links to your latest blog posts or news updates-just do so with meaningful commentary. This encourages interaction and draws more attention to your links.
Make your readers want to click through, as Social Media Today does in this example:
4. You don't acknowledge other users' mentions.
Google+ is a social network, so when you ignore other users and focus only on your work, you miss the point.
What's more, when other users see you're only interested in promoting your own content, they'll lose interest. For this reason, it's best to post links with commentary and respond to what others share. When someone links to you or mentions you in a post, like it or leave a comment.
Also, when you want to tag someone else's content, tag him or her in the post the way Straight North did here:
5. You've neglected to add Google+ badges to your website.
What you post on Google+ is only half of the equation. You also need to add Google+ to your website.
Add the badge to your profile, either in a button or through plugins that make it easy for users to share your content. Try Easy Google+ Widget and The Google+ Plugin.
This way your audience will easily find you on Google+, join your circles and increase your influence.
What about you?
Do any of these mistakes sound familiar? Are you making any of these common errors?
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm providing specialized SEO, Web development, and other online marketing services such as website content writing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook. A version of this article originally appeared on JeffBullas.com.