Chapter 4: Search Engine Journal’s Google+ Strategy
Because Google+ is not just a social network– it is part of a powerful social platform that integrates with key capabilities like Google docs, chat, hangouts, gmail, and more.
In addition to the social benefits, there are powerful search benefits as well. Google search algorithms recognize social sharing, as each share tells them that the content is valuable and trustworthy. This is true regardless of the social media site, but it is all the more powerful with G+, since it ties in directly with Google search products.
For these reasons alone, Google+ is a high-value opportunity worth investing the time and resources required to cultivate it.
A common misconception is that Google+ is a ghost town. In reality, Google+ is home to vibrant, active communities that foster deep engagement. The trick is learning how to find and take advantage of these communities to build long-lasting relationships with core audiences.
Driving Google+ Follower Growth
In conjunction with the recent website re-design, it would be fruitful to give the Google+ badge more prominent placement. This allows users to easily follow our Google+ page directly from the website.
Encourage sharing of SEJ content on Google+ among internal stakeholders, such as ABM team members, contributing writers, etc.
Direct Connect is an interesting search tie-in that enables users to automatically add brands to their Circles by including the plus symbol (+) before a brand name in their Google search queries. Similar to call-outs in advertising that ask consumers to “Like us on Facebook,” we can say, “Search for +SearchEngineJournal on Google,” and the action will take users directly to our Google+ page. This functionality is available for many, but not all, so maybe we can suggest an article be written on the topic and then use it to encourage locating our Google+ page this way.
Being More Strategic with Google+ Circles
As of March, 2014, we had about 40 people in our own circles. By circling more influential users ourselves, we can engage more regularly with more peoples’ related content and subsequently get in front of the eyes of their fans, and hopefully grow our fan base.
Hangouts allow multiple Google+ users to participate in spontaneous video chats. This is a feature brands can use to engage followers in targeted discussions or focus groups around the topics they care about.
Although only 10 people can participate in a Hangout at one time, the Hangouts On Air feature allows for Hangouts to broadcast to many more viewers who can watch events, product demonstrations, or focus groups in real-time.
It would be great to optimize this function by having monthly or bi-monthly Hangouts featuring internet marketing professionals. The Hangouts could be an open discussion of current trends, or rely on a specific hot topic. This allows our community to engage with us in a much more intimate way, and users would have to circle us in order to view the Hangout which would indirectly help grow the numbers, too.
We can work with Kelsey to find authors who would be willing to hold SEJ hangouts with us. We could look for content that received a lot of comments or traction, and then ask the writer if they would do a Hangout to discuss the topic further and answer any questions.
Google+ Post Visibility
Once a user “circles” our Google+ page, our posts show up in Google searches when users are logged into their Google accounts. A person could circle our page and never engage with or visit it again, but our posts still have the potential to show up in their Google searches. Posts with +1s have a better possibility of showing up in searches.
Google does not apply an algorithm to the home feed, which is a huge differentiator from Facebook. For Google+, this means timing matters: posts decay and are not bumped up by affinity or weight values. It also emphasizes the value of getting into users’ circles – one you’re in, you’re in – and you have just as much chance as anyone else in their circles at getting your posts seen.
+1s also matter. +1 is to Google+ posts what likes are to Facebook posts. The only major differentiator is that posts with more +1s are more likely to be seen in Google search results. Keywords also matter more on Google+ since posts are more likely to show in search results for certain topics.
Google + Posting Strategy
Similar to Facebook, the posting strategy should involve sharing a mix of relevant links and engaging content. People love trivia, tips, and tricks about things they are interested in. They like answering questions and having their voices heard.
Conveying a lot of humor surrounding pertinent topics also aids in garnering engagement. Visual content such as photos and videos typically create a lot of interaction.
Due to the large amount of new content posted on the SEJ website, at least four posts per day is a steady amount to ensure all our posts, along with others, are being distributed.
Post types will vary and feature photos, links, and polls, along with various posts lengths: some longer post intros, some shorter ones. To ensure we are not being entirely self-promotional, we will also include regular posts from other sources.
Tagging other pages when opportunistic is also something we can start taking advantage of. Similarly, although Google+ has started attaching hashtags to posts regularly based on the content of the posts, using specific hashtags more frequently have the added benefit of us showing up in search results for those hashtags.
Google+ Engagement Strategy
Engaging with users is critically important to building relationships and creating brand advocates. Steps to nurturing fan relationships include:
- Acknowledge comments: +1 generic comments, comment on those that warrant a response
- Listen to our audience: Note requests and specific feedback
- Engage with other brands: +1, comment on their posts to show support and friendliness
Google + Monitoring Strategy
If we come across negative comments on our page, try to connect with the individual to learn more about the issue. We should try to resolve mendable issues to transform a difficult situation into something beneficial.
Delete comments on our page that are:
- Controversial or potentially offensive
- Not relevant
A primary goal is to drive traffic to the website. In the month of January 2014, 15,602 visitors arrived at the website via Google+. We would like to see this percentage rise by at least 10% each month.
- February 2014 goal = 17,162 visitors
- March 2014 goal = 18,878 visitors
- April 2014 goal = 20,766 visitors
As of March 2014, 10,700 people have circled us and 23,200 have +1ed our page. In January, we had 515 +1s on posts along with 127 re-shares and 43 comments. Growing these numbers month over month at a minimum rate of 10% would be ideal as well.
Preferably, using Google+ will draw more traffic to the website and lead to numerous benefits, such as increases in advertising sales and sponsorship opportunities, and help continue to brand SEJ as an expert in the search arena.
Google+ Reporting Strategy
Monitor and report monthly on:
- +1s on posts
- Comments on posts
- +1s on page itself
- People who have circled us
- Website traffic
- Trends, tactics, and insights