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