How to Create an Effective Google+ SEO Content Strategy

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I’ve recommended from the beginning that businesses should use Google+, but with the launch of Search Plus Your World, the web marketer’s game has changed

And getting that Google+ account is critical.

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But just having an account will not help you. You must optimize it to get the best results from Search Plus Your World. Let me show you how.

Google+: Why you can’t ignore it anymore

Search for “social media” on Google and you will get these results:

The results on the right…the sidebar “People and Pages on Google+”…that’s what’s really important. The question is: how did they get there?

Here is another set of results:

Same thing…but different. Note: These are all brands or people who’ve ranked for a very competitive term. What’s the common denominator? They are all on Google+. And “social media” is in included somewhere in their account.

See, Search Plus Your World is an intentional strategy for Google to lead people to join Google+. How do I know that? Google offers an opportunity to getting in those results:

That leads you to a button to sign up for a Google+ account:

But just signing up for the account won’t make you leap to the top of the sidebar results. You have to optimize your Google+ account in these 8 critical areas:

  • Optimize your Google+ profile
  • Optimizing your Circles
  • Format your posts headlines
  • Create compelling content
  • Share compelling content
  • Optimize the +1 button
  • Confirm ownership of your site/account
  • Confirm authorship

Let’s explore each in detail.

Optimizing your Google+ profile

There are two things that matter when it comes to showing up in searches with your Google+ account: where the keywords show up in your profile page and who you are connected to.

Concerning keywords, AJ Kohn points out the four places in your Google+ profile that keywords matter for ranking are:

  • Introduction
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Places

In our search for “social media”, we see this to be true. All the bold “social” or “social media” words can be found in their Introductions:

Take away: thread relevant keywords through your Google+ profile…namely in the Introduction, Employment, Education and Places sections…and you may start ranking for some highly-competitive broad terms. After that, though, the size and quality of your Circle needs to be optimized.

Optimizing your Google+ Circles

This is pretty straightforward…the more high-quality people you have in your Circle that link back to you the better.

That’s Google+ Circle optimization 101.

So how do you get those high-quality people to Circle you? In the post 10 Productive Tasks You Should Be Doing On Google+ Right Now at Problogger, I shared some tips on how to engage these high-profile Google+ users to entice them to connect with you. Here are the tips in a nutshell:

  • Comment like crazy on Google+ thought leader posts.
  • Focus on a particular thought leader and promote his content. When you get that connection, repeat the process with another thought leader.
  • Share your work in comments…but sparingly.
  • Fill out your profile fully so people know you are for real when they check you out.
  • Create posts with a particular thought leader in mind.

According to my own experiments with clients and what others have been saying, if you don’t have a lot of people in your Circles, the next factor that seems important is engagement. I share a handful of tips on how to engage with your Google+ audience in another Problogger post…The Blogger’s Guide to Meaningful Engagement on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter… but the take away for this section is this: Buckle down and focus on attracting high-quality Google+ users into your Circles.

Format your Google+ posts headlines

The title of your Google+ posts are the only “meta” that you can optimize when it comes to Google+ posts. Didn’t know you could title the posts?

This is how posts are usually published on Google+:

There is no headline. This is how AJ Kohn publishes posts:

That’s the headline tag you want to optimize. How do you do that? Simple…add asterisks to the front and back of your headline: *Your Headline Here*.  And use keywords.

By the way, the asterisks will go away when you publish.

Create compelling Google+ content

Chris Brogan argues that Google+ is a great platform for storytelling. I couldn’t agree more. So you have to wonder why so many people are satisfied with simply posting: “This restaurant rocks!” with a photo of it below.

Instead, to create Google+ posts that attract attention, gain followers and rank in search, try these tips:

  • Create a content schedule – You don’t have to write a full blown article each time you post…but you should schedule one in once a week.
  • Share videos and photos – But explain in a paragraph or two why you are sharing the content. Don’t forget your headlines!
  • Conduct surveys – Engage your audience with a little survey. Start the survey off with your question as the headline…then explain in a few short paragraphs why you are asking the question.
  • Use it as a niche blog – Use your Google+ content to focus on a topic you’ve wanted to explore…but you could never find a good reason to do it on your blog.

Here are a couple of cool things: your Google+ content can rank with Google’s search personalization turned off. Furthermore, it’s truly amazing how quickly this content can rank…sometimes within minutes you can see your post in the results.

Finally, to keep track of how your content is spreading, use Ripple. Just click the nav arrow to the right of any post…

…and you can get historical data of where that posts has traveled:

Take away: Treat your Google+ posts with the same respect you would treat your own blog posts…because now your Google+ posts matter more.

Share compelling content on Google+

Because compelling content takes time to create, you probably don’t have time to write a substantial post every day. You have work to do, your own blog to take care of…but you still need to keep good content coming down your Google+ stream.

In order to do this, you simply have to find great content in your Google+ stream…and then share it. That’s an easy enough take away.

Optimize the +1 button

Well, you’re not really optimizing it except to say you are using it…which is critical.

For the moment, it seems that Google gives more weight to the +1s you get directly from the site versus the +1 you get from content on Google+. In other words, the 29 +1s I got for this article…

…do not include the 8 +1s I got on Google+ for the same article…

That’s too bad, because the more +1s you get the better the impact social proof can make on your readers.

Google does share some pointers on optimizing your +1s:

Take away: If you haven’t already, drop the +1 button on your blog. Google is paying attention to how many people are using it for your content…and it is impacting your search ranking.

Confirm ownership of your site/account

Google highly recommends that you link your Google+ account to your website/blog and vice versa. Your first step is to link your Google+ account to your blog/website.

Google explains how:

Your next step is to get a Google+ badge for your website/blog…then submit a Google+ page verification request. Unfortunately, one of the stipulations for that verification is to get 1,000 people to link to you…not a small feat for some small businesses.

Take away: It’s not known how much, but confirming ownership of a site seems to influence search inside Google+…so take the time to do it.

Confirm Authorship

To enhance your social identity, improve your search results and increase click through for those searches…you should officially claim you are the author of your content through authorship markup.

Here’s what that looks like from a search standpoint:

As an author claiming his content, Danny Sullivan is provided some outstanding advantages to the other SERs. For example:

  • Profile picture appears in results lending credibility to him as an author.
  • The “by Danny Sullivan” drives searches to his Google+ page.
  • And then the “More by Danny Sullivan” leads to an entire Google search dedicated to Danny Sullivan content.

Pretend you didn’t know who Danny was…if you were looking for “SEO advice,” the term I used to search…which SER looks the most promising?

Almost doesn’t seem fair, does it?

However, implementing REL=AUTHOR is sort of complicated. That’s why I highly recommend AJ Kohn’s guide on how to implement REL=AUTHOR. He put that together with the help of three Google engineers, so read it and then bookmark it.

Take away: It’s worth the investment in time to confirm authorship for you or your clients since it influences your rankings, Google+ profile and click-through conversion.


At the end of the day, you have no excuse for not being on Google+. However, I have a feeling I am probably preaching to the choir, so instead of using this post to convince you…use it to help convince your clients of the immense value of setting up a Google+ account.

Sure, they probably hired you to do SEO “work,” but as is becoming clearer as time goes on, the lines between SEO, social media and internet strategy are getting blurred. It’s a great idea to know not only what to do…but how to explain it clearly to clients or partners.

What other influence is Google+ having on search that I forgot to mention?

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at... Read Full Bio
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  • Steve Sherfy

    Seems like a very complete, compelling article. The only thing I would add or question is what does this truly mean on a local level for small businesses, or for national retailers with large, local footprints. There have been a few articles on Google+ and the effect on small businesses, but the summary of most of them has been, “not much yet, wait and see.”

    Any thoughts on that?

  • Kolya

    Neil, your paragraph “Optimizing your Google+ Circles” is brilliant!
    How to engage people, including leaders and opinions makers, in own Circles is the most crucial part to be successful. I must confess, I did not have any strategy to make it up. Your strategy to build up own quality Circles is just ‘list-to-do’. Thank you!

    To your whole post I would like to add just two extra things. On Google+ About page it is important to care about brand of owner. The last means – take care about images and photos on it. Secondly, if you share a post from a blog, then the first image will appear on your link on Google+ Post page. So, optimize first this image in your blog.

  • Nica Mandigma

    Neil! THIS IS GREAT!! I cannot stress that enough. I’ve listed more than five action items from this post and I stopped my tasks for my clients so I can do all of them.

    Sharing this to everyone I know!

  • Madonna

    Neil, As someone who is just finding their way in the world of social media, this is great information. Thank you.

  • Pip Norman

    Excellent and informative – I found this blog post really helpful and it will definitely be helpful in speaking to clients about google+ – Well done!


  • Craig

    This is the best article I have read on Google Plus. Is there a difference on setting up a page for a business than for an individual?

  • Jeff

    Niel you are a machine. This is the second post in as many days from you that I’ve bookmarked for further action!

  • Greg Holbert

    If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em as they say! Great article but I had difficulty finding the “links” tab in about. I’ll give it another look after the comment is posted in case I overlooked it but otherwise very informative article!

  • Katie

    Great article! I too would like to know if there a difference on setting up a page for a business than for an individual?

  • Aditi Datta

    Neil, This post is great and great effort indeed. It truly gives us a good information on how to optimize our Google profile more efficiently. This post is truly very informative and I like the way of how it is very presented to us. Infact, I find it very interesting too. Thanks for sharing such a nice post with us!!

  • Isaacson

    there are some really great tips. but most of this seems to only apply for personal accounts, not pages. I’m curious if you have any tips for pages as well? Also, I don’t see the ripple feature in either my page or personal account. is that in some sort of limited roll out?

  • Gary Cottam

    Hate to jump on the bandwagon bit it looks like how to set up business pages should be popular demand
    be the topic of you next post. Please!

  • Andre Morris

    Absolutely SOLID article with a lot of meaty content. I thought I had optimized my introduction pretty well, but you convinced me to go back and do it again. I found a few keywords that were missed originally. Thanks!

  • Grammar Experts

    Google+ business pages are a little different than personal ones – how would you recommend optimizing those specifically?

  • Angelo

    This article hypes up the value and importance of those Google+ results a bit much.

    The number of queries those show for are very small. IF they’re shown for something you want to rank for AND you can contribute the resources to beat out the listings that are being shown (there’s only room for 2-3 that I’ve seen), then maybe go for it.

    Also, without any stats on the click through rates of those listings it’s hard to quantify it’s worth to try and get your profile there. It could be a free ad for you if you can get in there but that doesn’t mean it will have been worth the effort it took to get there and maintain that position.

  • Dirk In Seo

    I don´t know how I see this results of persons in the side bar. Is this only at

    Thanks for interesting article.

  • Krisztian

    Great post Neil. There is no question about the importance of Google + in SEO and what could be a better topic than optimising Google + pages and content for traffic.

    I found it interesting that Google gives more weight to the +1s you get directly from the site versus the +1 you get from content on Google+.

    Thanks for the tips on content creation for Google + too.

    Great post over all.

  • Kevin Stice

    Great information! I didnt realize the importance of Google +. Im a chiropractor and obviously always looking for ways to get new patients and improve SEO. Thanks!

  • Jonathan Bentz

    Love your comment about the +1’s on the page being more valuable than the +1’s inside Plus. Tell me this: any data (subjective or objective) to indicate an effectiveness in +1’s on a page versus +1’s in the SERPs and their impact on page non-personalized page placement?

  • Babymatras

    Really interessting how Google+ profiles itselves towards the new Facebook. I will update my profile thanks to this informing article, thanx!

    Grtz from Holland!

  • Dido

    Excellent and informative – I found this blog post really helpful and it will definitely be helpful in speaking to clients about google+ – Well done!

  • Ryan

    what a great article, thanks for the great insight into Google +, staying on top of all the possible Social Media these days and advising clients on the best strategies can be somewhat exhausting as everything seems to change so frequently.

    great help THANKS

    Ryan Cunningham
    Construct Media

  • Chris

    Hey Neil,

    Just for clarification, you said:

    Take away: If you haven’t already, drop the +1 button on your blog. Google is paying attention to how many people are using it for your content…and it is impacting your search ranking.

    Does this mean we should REMOVE the Google+ from our website, or add it if we haven’t already?

    I assume the latter, but the wording wasn’t clear.

    Thanks though for a great and detailed post.

  • Syed

    Thanks for the thorough article. One of the better ones on +1. I think people should take +1 seriously just looking at the amount of resources and effort Google is putting into it.

    IF +1 fails, you may have lost some of your effort and time (still, built valuable contacts in the process) – but if it does succeed, you will be already ahead of most of your competition. Personally for me, the potential benefit outweighs the risks.

  • Jeff Birchmore

    Like Chris above I’d appreciate additional insight into dropping the +1 from your blog. Pros / cons etc. Great informative post overall. Thank you!

  • Hans

    good information – however: I understand the idea behind, but I doubt the real use of people.
    Everybody I spoke to, did not know yet, even if, they did/do not understand what and why, and nearly all of them denied to register and give again personal data … they see no advantage, and it is too complicated. Normal users do not want that complictaed stuff – it´s like these online bookmarks which nobody uses… i don´t want to let everybody see and know MY personal preferred webpages
    and: by the way: as a small businessman I have a lot more to do but working day and night on endless social media nets, most of the time with no real interest in it, just to increase Google´s interest in me?
    For me, no option in the moment – if it my become easier to be used, but even then,,, I promise: Google will not have a big success with this. Wasted time, if it proceeds as described above.

  • Herman

    Great article and I have a follow-up question

    Should you share the same article on Google+ as on your blog or create entirely new content for it?

  • toefl simulado

    Wow they are really pushing for g+, i guess i have to create an profile now..very rewarding artice neil as usual!

  • Erik | Gravytrain – Vancouver SEO

    Great article, Neil! It seems that G+ and its influence on the search results isn’t going to go away any time soon, so we’re left either fighting it or giving in and playing ball. Looks like the latter will be the way to go!

  • mike

    Great article. I haven’t been a big fan of Google+ and have only dabbled in it because it only made sense that Google would give it a search advantage, it only makes good business sense. Thanks for the +1 info as hadn’t thought about it that way..

  • Joydeep

    Some really useful insights Neil. Google plus is surely going to play a bigger role in optimizing a website. Name it a monopoly of Google or something else but we are bound to have our presence felt on it.

  • Greg Hamre

    I’ve read alot of these articles lately, but the prctical ways that you give to otimize and grow your Google+ circles is really useful. I’ve been floating around for a while not really making much traction. Now I sort of see why. Thank you!