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July 13, 2011

Google+ Profile Optimization: Branding, SEO and Social Media Marketing

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I think that the opportunities for social and search and ad reach will be fantastic with G+… and I for one think Google brilliant for arranging a perfect storm. With Business Pages however, while great for small businesses, they will compete with our own websites for ranking, making G+ a hub and a top-ranking one at that… think Wikipedia for companies powered by social. You know what that means, right? SEO is top-3 organic or fail.

─Bruce Clay

Google Plus logo

That’s the start of a message I got from Bruce this week. Clearly Google+ has vast and far-reaching implications for the Internet marketing industry. And while we wait for business pages to be fully developed, there’s still a lot we can do for our personal brands to optimize our Google+ profiles and get the most value from the platform from an SEO and SMM perspective.

Google+ is, after all, the first publicly viewable, crawlable social network with the potential to significantly effect search results.

Google+ Optimization Best Practices

For marketers, it’s a must to apply optimization best practices to our G+ profile, not only for the benefit of our personal brands, but also as a way to become familiar with profile optimization on the platform so we can help clients use G+ to their advantage once business pages are rolled out.

Boost Your Bio: Optimize all provided fields

Use every field provided on your Google profile as an opportunity to build substance and context around your brand. Put loving thought into the “A brief description of you” section and “Introduction” field of your profile, knowing that these areas of your profile contribute greatly to the first impression you make. As for the rest of the fields, such as “Bragging rights,” “Occupation,” “Employment,” “Education,” “Places lived,” etc., use these fields as you see fit for the circles you run in – no pun intended. If your professional life makes up a big part of how you define yourself and is how you met many of the people you know, as is the case for me, you’ll obviously want to fill out that portion of your profile.

On a Web page, a similar SEO practice would be utilizing all Meta tags properly and including relevant keywords. At Bruce Clay, Inc. we’ve always advocated optimizing everything including the Meta Keywords tag even though it’s not a search engine ranking factor because using it in its intended function provides search engines with support for the page topic and can be a helpful tool for a webmaster or SEO in maintaining the page theme as modifications are made and iterations of the page occur.

When it comes to Google+, you may want to mention your name throughout the profile, especially if you have a common name and you’d like your G+ profile to rank in search for your name. If Google+ reaches mainstream adoption and there are lots of people using the social platform, you want to make sure that you’re the John Smith when people search.

Give It Juice: Let the link love flow in and out

I think we can all envision a future where the Google+ profiles and business pages act as brand hubs for the rest of the Web. I think of Google Places pages a lot like that for local businesses I search for today. When searching for a brick-and-mortar business online, I can only hope that business has claimed and optimized their Places page, included their website, their hours, their phone number and has ample reviews. I know that a well-optimized Places page will lead me to all the other important places on the Web to find that business thanks to info and links.

Let your Google+ profile be your brand hub by including all applicable profiles to your account. Google makes it easy to link up your accounts from Facebook, Yahoo, Flickr, LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, Yelp, Microsoft and Plaxo.

By linking out to your other online personas, you’re pleasing Google by feeding it with information. You know how much Google likes to understand connections on the Web and be the leading informational resource. Appeal to Google’s ego by giving it the data it wants on the brand and you’ll see your profile page become stronger in Google’s eyes.

You’ll also want to send some inbound links to your G+ profile, and what better way to do that than by linking to it from your other online profiles. I’ve included my Google+ profile as my website link on Twitter and Facebook. You can also link to your Google+ profile in the signature for forum and usenet posts.

Note: Before I wrote this I was using gplus.to to point people to my G+ profile in shorthand, but I just checked and they use a 302 redirect. Until Google allows for custom URLs on profiles, be aware that you’ll want to use a URL shortener that uses a 301 redirect so that link value is passed along.

Stay Fresh: Update profile info and post regularly

If you know SEO, you know the value of freshness. A more up-to-date and actively updating profile will have more social value, and likely, more search value as well. Freshness and relevance have strong correlation as a ranking signal. If your public content on your G+ profile is always growing, you’re building brand value.

If you have trouble finding time for your IRL social life, let alone your online social presence, plan to add a post to your G+ profile every set period of time. As an added benefit, you may even end up adding something people find interesting to your profile. ;)

Get Pic-y Wit’ It: Add photos and videos and media, oh my!

Add pictures. Google loves pictures. You can expect the pictures you include to show up on Google Image search, helping your G+ profile and the associated brand be the top result for brand-name searches.

More importantly, people love pictures. And if you want to get really science-y about it, leave it to OKCupid to break down the optimal smile, eye contact and skin ratios for profile pics. More pictures means more attention means more popularity and more followers. That’s all that needs to be said about that.

Forget Your Privacy Fears

Before you can apply any of the above best practices to your Google+ profile, you’ve got to get over your tendency toward anonymity ─ that is, if you have any. Believe me, I know. For the longest time I’ve grappled with making my life publicly available online. I started on Twitter with a private account, and I wasn’t comfortable adding my email address to the public space on my Facebook profile until just recently. But the awesome thing about Circles is its flexible privacy tools that allow you to have a very public persona while simultaneously having an intensely private one and not having to worry about leakage. Use that ability!

This week I interviewed conversion guru Bryan Eisenberg for the SEM Synergy podcast (coming your way soon!) and I’ll give you a little spoiler alert that I just can’t keep to myself. Bryan described Facebook as the social AOL. A necessary evil that ushered us to the time we’re in today. Where AOL was the gateway drug introducing the masses to the Internet, Facebook was the portal to the Internet’s social sphere. Of course, AOL’s utility faded away as people became more comfortable with the Web and willing to venture into the open spaces. Likewise, thanks to Facebook’s gently familiarizing us, we’ve become accustomed to social sharing and are finally ready to graduate into an open environment. Come to terms with the reality that you’re going to have a presence online, so make that presence the best representation of you.

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23 responses to “Google+ Profile Optimization: Branding, SEO and Social Media Marketing”

  1. Google Business Page writes:

    With the social media component of Google expanding, will netizens gain leverage in search? This remains to be a quagmire that boggles me as an SEO with the direction of my strategy.

  2. Billy Wichterman writes:

    About the redirect links… what do you prefer over gplus.to?

  3. shashank writes:

    I must say Google + is going to add new dimension to SEO, soon Google + will affect rankings apart from this Google+ is really very google social networking taking care of each section of audience.

  4. Virginia Nussey writes:

    I’m sticking to good ol’ bit.ly :) http://bit.ly/virginianussey

  5. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Uh ohs. Regular peoples could be all up in your SERPs!

  6. SEO Consultancy writes:

    Really I would say the branding, social media and seo should all be a full effort and executed to the highest standard possible. If you stay on top of the game, your website shouldn’t suffer

  7. webmaster writes:

    Those tips are very effective to get a high page rank. Social media marketing is one of the best strategies to have a client and getting traffic from the website. Google + is effective for publicity of the site.

  8. Julia Gordan writes:

    Hey, Virginia
    Thank for your nice introduction about Google+
    I think google created limitation for new gmail user to access google+

  9. Mark Upshaw writes:

    First off, thank you for the tips above, I had to stop midway and apply a couple of them to my G+ profile right away, splashing my name throughout my profile and linking back to it from others profiles like FB.

    Secondly, G+ will prove to be a great opportunity and I hope you continue posts on how to include it in our branding and marketing.

  10. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Thanks, Mark :) Really awesome to hear that! With everything G+ is doing to shape our industry, I’m sure you’ll see lots more here.

  11. Clark Taylor writes:

    Bruce, you’re the first I’ve seen to post optimization tips for G+. Thank you!

    It got me playing around and thinking that the number of people listing a brand’s name under Sparks (Interests) could be used in determining a brands reach and possibly be used as a ranking factor. But it also could be easily gamed. What do you think?

  12. Vishal writes:

    Hey Virginia ! Great branding and optimization tips for Google plus. I also linked my sites from the body of the description in G+.

  13. Clark Taylor writes:

    Doh! Now I see Sparks aren’t visible on the profile page only your stream.

  14. Josh writes:

    Excellent post! Also, consider the implications of the author attribute… I added a G+ button on one of my blogs that links to my profile that includes the author attribute and the next day G+ was suggesting to add it to my links.

  15. Surjanu writes:

    Enjoying your second innings at bruce clay:) Great tips for gplus optimization. But at the moment, everyone is looking for either a way to import fb friends or looking for an invite. I personally love the hangout thing…Kills FB there :) It also handles privacy issues well off the bat. Gplus is going to come out business pages soon ( on a testing basis) and only after most of our contacts are on glus will we really see how good it really is and if it can be the FB killer it is billed to be. At least google seems to have done a better job than the wave disaster and probably has good chance of nailing FB. Irony is that Mark Zuckerberg seems to have the maximum no. of people following him on google plus (in case it’s not a fake profile)

  16. Ecommerce Blog writes:

    Recently, the Google+ has been launched. Yet, I did not get any invitation to join into but I want to create a profile of my business as soon as possible so that i can start promoting my website.

  17. Arcanys writes:

    That was really gold mine article. Having G+ on my website promotes credibility for my site. Though I’m still in the middle of this transition I’m pretty sure this would work out.

  18. Scott Frangos writes:

    Thanks for a great article — I have linked to it in our directory of G+ resources (http://www.webfadds.com/2011/07/google-digest-of-primers-guides-and-resources/)

    I particularly like your idea of a “Brand Hub” and am thinking it might extend past just providing links to other Social Media venue… depending on how the API and Apps playout, it could become even more central, over time, than current “websites” are today.

  19. Peter @ Reifen Penus online writes:

    I believe that Google+ takes some time to show results. We techies only know about Google+ roght now. When it goes viral, we can expect a good result from G+

  20. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Thanks, Scott. Your suspicion that G+ pages can be more significant for a brand’s online presence is one I tend to agree with. Google’s in the middle of a major concerted effort to rule the Web, and Google+ is certainly part of that.

  21. Kent writes:

    Fully utilize Google Social Circle does help a lot. I have to say, in the future, we need social circles, many social circles combined to be social network. This is just a human behaviour.

    I love Google+ because of its social circle. Who knows in the future, we have to optimize social circle rather than the whole social networking site.

  22. John Minter writes:

    I recently was invited to Google+ and I’m still figuring out what it’s all about! Your posting as always was helpful and your section covering privacy put my fears to rest!

  23. hossain writes:

    we see google+ votes is one of the top social stuff but here is also many site like that gplusvotes.com now its time to see their activities and how much they will satisfy us with their performance. will come here to see your reply, thanks.



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