Why do I need Google Plus? Isn’t it just another social network? I already have Facebook and Twitter, why do I need another? I don’t get Google Plus. I really should find out how to make the most out of Google Plus.
Well, I’m going to attempt to explain why bloggers should use Google Plus.
Essentially, Google Plus works very closely with Google’s search engine – if you correctly link to your blog content from your Google Plus page, you can boost your content’s positioning in search results. (Whilst Google Plus is a great place for conversation and community, this post will focus mainly on how G+ relates to better search engine results – just a warning if you’re not interested in the stats side of blogging).
Google Authorship and Rich Snippets
The first and biggest step is to link your g+ profile with your blog, so that your profile picture appears next to your posts in Google’s search results, in what’s known as a ‘Rich Snippet’.
Linking g+ to your blog is called claiming Google Authorship, and Tots100 recently wrote a helpful post on how to do that.
Search results featuring rich snippets tend to see a higher click-through rate (I know I tend to click on them more than others). I’ve heard very mixed reports about the effectiveness of rich snippets achieving more click-throughs. Lots of people have reported a 20-30% rise in click-throughs. Some have reported a 150% rise. You can check your author stats via Google Webmaster Tools.
You can also claim authorship for guests posts you’ve written for other websites. As easy as setting up a no follow link, just ask the site owner to add in the “rel = author” code in the link to your blog (If you are a regular contributor you can put the code in your bio page on that site and then authorship should work for every post). Read more about how to implement authorship markup on guest posts here.
There are some other interesting benefits of setting up Google Authorship:
Google has confirmed that if a user returns to the search results after reading an author-tagged search result for a certain period of time, Google will add three additional links to similar articles from the same author below the originally clicked link.
If you often feature vlogs, it can be beneficial to link your YouTube account with your g+ profile, read more about that here.
Authorship only works if you have a Google Plus PROFILE, and not a page. I know this is an issue for many bloggers, especially those that want to remain anonymous. You have to use a real name on a g+ profile, it won’t allow you to use the name of your blog.
If you want to stay in favour of Google search results, I’m not sure there is a way of remaining completely anonymous as a blogger. Originally, I was a bit scared of using my real name on my g+ profile as although not anonymous, I don’t like having too many obvious links from my ‘real life’ to my blog – friends and family stumble across my blog by themselves all the time, which I don’t mind, but I don’t like to actively advertise the blog. So for g+, I set up an entirely new gmail address (so my personal contacts wouldn’t find me in the ‘people you may know’ recommendations), and used a fake surname on my profile.
I can’t say whether this approach would have been effective in keeping me completely anonymous, as I didn’t stick to it for long. The more I read into g+ and authorship, the more I realised that I just wanted to concentrate on the one g+ profile for blog, for business, and for everything else. So, I changed my g+ profile to my real name. I also have a g+ page for Sorry About the Mess, for anyone who just wants to follow blog stuff.
Sharing your content on your g+ profile can also help place you higher up in the search results. Every post you’re creating inside of Google Plus is being indexed and treated as a regular web page on the internet.
However, Google doesn’t seem to like it when people use their profiles solely to post links to their own stuff. It’s about community, sharing, and commenting on other content as well as your own. A good rule of thumb seems to be at least 4 other updates for every 1 blog pimping status. Here’s a good article on how to index your g+ posts in order to boost your search engine visibility. Basically, be active on g+ for genuine, social reasons, and post your own stuff when it’s relevant.
Up until very recently, author rank has just been a speculative theory – the theory that google will start to rank search results according to your g+ activity, participation, and how much of an authoritative figure you are on certain topics on g+ (eg, parenting, blogging, babies, etc).
However, yesterday, in the announcement of a new search results feature, Google strongly suggested that they will be using author rank as a measure of relevancy when it comes to search engine results. Read more about that news here.
Author rank and authorship is something that people are still learning about, and that Google seem to be tweaking as they go. No one really knows what’s going on with author rank apart from Google themselves. I’ve found the Google Authorship G+ community really interesting to follow.
There are lots of other nice things about Google Plus. The communities are great. I use it as a way to find new blogs to read. With the way I’ve set up my circles at the moment, I’m finding my G+ timeline is essentially my Facebook for bloggers only – which is brilliant.
What about you? Do you use your profile as well as your page? Or do you prefer to have everything run out of a g+ page? I’d be really interested to hear how others are using their Google Plus accounts.