Google+ may not be as popular as Facebook or Twitter, but the growing social network still offers significant benefits for content creators and brands—provided they’re active on the site, of course. The biggest advantage? SEO. That’s why I’ve been unwilling to give up on G+ — at least not yet.
The content you post on Google+ is indexed by Google and may turn into highly ranked search results providing keyword- and topic-relevant search engine visibility—also known as the content marketing holy grail.
Here are seven tips that can help you boost your Google+ presence and engagement. And, by extension, you’ll boost your search engine optimization (SEO) visibility. That’s what we call a win-win.
1. Take time to build your profile: If you expect to increase your engagement on Google+ (or any social network, for that matter), creating an effective profile needs to be your top priority. Take the time to fill out all the pertinent information on your Google+ page and write an informative and concise bio. What do you want people to know about you?
Add a well-lit and clear headshot and make sure you take advantage of the cover photo space, too. Your cover photo should complement your profile information—after all, you’re in the market to create a snapshot of who you are, as well as your brand or business. You’d be surprised at how many people skip this step and wonder why they’re not getting optimal results on the site. This is a valuable, visible corner of the Web in which you can promote yourself—use it!
2. Share informative and relevant content: Content is key when it comes to inviting engagement on Google+. Make a concerted effort to share quality original content, as well as carefully curated information your audience will find useful, informative and entertaining. Look at your business objectives and the types of people you want to engage with your brand or business, and share information that’s relevant to their interests and needs. Concentrate on quality versus quantity. Add variety to keep things interesting and keep Google+ users coming back for more.
3. Reciprocate: Take the time to +1 articles that you genuinely like and make comments on posts that are interesting to you. Commenting will also help you cultivate relationships with people in your circles. Freely share content you find informative and interesting and make sure you give credit where credit is due. The key to interaction and engagement on Google+ (as well as on any social network) is to remember that it’s a two-way street. Don’t just broadcast your message and information—make sure you’re interacting with others, too. Imagine that! A key component of success on a social network is, well, being social. Go figure.
4. Add relevant people to your circles: Add people you feel will be interested in what you have to offer. You can easily do this by entering relevant keywords into the search box on Google+. The great thing about Google+ search results is that you can filter them by people, pages and posts, so try using Google+ search to help you find content ideas and keep tabs on industry and other related topics that will give you a competitive advantage in your field.
5. Let’s hang out: Hangouts are probably my favorite Google+ feature. Think of it as video chat (instant messaging is available, too) with all of your nearest and dearest G+ friends. Sure, they’re great for social applications. But I’ve also used them for meetings, interviews and other business functions—the possibilities are nearly endless. The Hangouts feature in the Google+ mobile app makes joining in a discussion especially convenient—you don’t have to be tied to your computer to participate. And speaking of the mobile app—I love it. You can tell the Google+ team has been hard at work since the app was first introduced. If you’ve not yet downloaded it and taken it for a test drive, check it out.
6. Embrace change: Listen to what people are interested in and what they’re talking about. Learn to be observant and regularly check which posts you share get the most number of pluses or comments, and share more of those types of posts. If you see that your content strategy is not working, be flexible enough to make the necessary changes. Increasing your level of engagement frequently requires you to pivot and adjust to reach your target audience. What works for your audience on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn might not be as effective on Google+. Learning to monitor and respond to user activities and analytics is a key part of creating and maintaining a successful social strategy.
7. Be present: I know what you’re saying: I don’t have time for another social network! It’s tough to find the time to participate, but give it a few weeks of solid effort and see what sort of interaction and opportunities you find. Social networks aren’t one-size-fits-all—they may not work for your particular brand or business. But it’s also worth taking a site like Google+ for a test drive. You never know—you might stumble on your next brand advocates or clients.
At its heart, Google+ isn’t all that different from other social networks. But the benefits it offers, namely increased SEO visibility, might just make it a worthwhile addition to your overall social strategy.
Shelly Kramer is the CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A version of this article originally appeared on the V3 Integrated Marketing blog.