Many businesses make the mistake of discounting Google+ from their social media strategy. However, if used right, Google+ is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to grow the visibility of your business. One of the main benefits of using Google+ is that everything you post gets indexed by Google and is treated like any other page, such as your website, offering immense SEO potential.
Not only that, but Google+ also provides many resources in a single place, such as Hangouts, Communities, Circles, and others. That said, here are some simple methods you can begin using right now to use Google+ to increase your visibility and ultimately grow your business:
1. Optimize Your Google+ Business Page. First start off with a great cover photo. Google+ allows you to upload a photo as large as 2120x1192 pixels, much larger than you will find on other social media networks. Mashable does a great job with their Google+ business page, starting off with a high resolution cover photo:
And then they take full advantage of their About page, giving a crystal clear description of what they do, and using the Links section to link back to their website (you can also put links directly in the About section and consider linking to your blog if you have one) and to their other social media profiles:
2. Participate in Google+ Communities. The selection of Google+ Communities to participate in is endless. You are guaranteed to find many active communities on Google+ related to the specific niche you're in. Think of Google+ Communities as being similar to LinkedIn Groups. You want to join as many communities related to your niche as possible and be an active member in them. They provide you with the perfect opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals who are interested in your niche and give you the chance to establish yourself as an industry expert and increase your exposure.
Don't just use Google+ Communities as a place to dump your content, however. Be an active member and comment on content being posted by other members, as well, to establish a connection with the community. You can also create your own Google+ community and it will show at the top of your Google+ business page, similar to what Unbounce has done:
3. Take Advantage of Google+ Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts are the perfect way for you to interact with others. You can use Google+ Hangouts to interview others who are hot in your specific niche and may be of interest to your customers, present webinars, hold Q&A sessions, provide one-on-one support to customers, etc.
While the popular Google+ Hangouts On Air feature migrated to YouTube Live, you can still use any desktop recording software to record the Google+ Hangouts you are holding, especially if you're doing interviews or Q&A sessions, and then upload the recording to YouTube so you can post it on your other social media profiles to gain additional exposure. Some businesses will even reach out to others in their industry to see if they would be open to a sponsorship arrangement so the business can get their name on the hangout, even if they're not participating in it themselves.
4. Use Keywords & Hashtags In Your Posts. Think of posting on Google+ as creating a blog post. Keywords are critical, especially given the fact that your Google+ posts will be indexed on Google. If any of your connections are searching on Google, there is a good chance they will come across your posts somewhere in their search results, so SEO optimization is extremely important.
You should try to include the keywords your post is targeting within the first few words of your post, as they will be treated as the title in the search results on Google. Using hashtags in your posts will also categorize them and help you target specific groups as Google+ truly is the king of searches in the social media world. However, Google+ has no tolerance for spamming, so as a general rule, try not to include more than 3 hashtags in any specific post. You can use the Explore section on Google+ to see what's trending as a way to determine what hashtags you could be using in your posts.
5. Use Google+ Circles To Segment Your Connections. Google+ Circles allow you to segment your connections so you can share content specifically to the subsets of people you've created who may be interested in it. This effectively enables you to share content within a laser targeted audience you've created.
Some businesses will choose to create Google+ Circles for customers, prospects, and influencers, for example, so they can share content specifically to the subset of people who may be interested in it. When sharing content with a circle, you also have the option to have your post emailed to your circle, thus increasing the chances of engagement.
For additional information on how Google+ is incorporated into Social Report, please visit: http://www.socialreport.com/features/google-plus.html