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Google+: What is it? Should I use it? How do I use it? What are the top tips?

Goggle+ (spoken as Google plus) is Google’s social networking medium. Launched in 2011, Google+ basically is Google’s version Facebook, although there are some differences. The utility value of Google+ for improving search rankings being one such point of difference.

It is also sometimes referred to as Google Maps, Google My Business and Google Places.

If you are a business, you should be using Google+. Where Facebook has the celebrity, family and friends corner covered. Google+ does well in business circles. This is especially true for businesses who have a strong digital presence. If you can use Facebook, you can use Google+, the same principles apply. However, using it as a way to improve your businesses search engine rankings, will take a few tips. Luckily some are coming up promptly.

First and foremost, use it. A social media profile is like a Tamagotchi 2.0. You have to look after your profile and nurture it, if you want it to produce some benefits for your business.

Fresh and regular content is key to this. Share and share alike. If you are posting anything, anywhere, why not also post it to Google+?. Be It media content – such as blogs, photo links or even marketing material – if you have it, share it.

Add images and your logo. Ensure your branding is consistent on your Google + page, and upload photos of your shop and products.

‘Follow’ other business pages in your area and your industry. This will not only add to the activity on your page, but may also get you exposure and encourage other users to follow you back!

Ask for Reviews! Positive reviews on Google + pages can help them to appear in the Maps results. Ask your clients/ customers to leave you a review where possible and you can also leave reviews on other businesses that are suppliers for you.

Free programs can share a single post across all your social media platforms. Check out Ping.fm for a simple version, or buy Hootsuite Pro if you are getting serious about analysing your social trends.

Set your free custom URL from Google. If you meet some simple requirements, you can qualify to receive a short web address for your page that you can name for your business and link to your website.

Link your website to Google+. This will help to create a vote of authority from Google for search results, and also allows your Google+ page to appear on search result pages. You can also add buttons on blog posts and important content to ensure that it’s easy for other others to share it.

Fill out your profile with good content. That doesn’t necessarily mean screeds of content. Concise is always better than wordy. For example, your ‘Story’ section also doubles as a meta description in search results. And, while it is fine to write more than 156 characters, that is all that will show in the results, so don’t waste that space. Don’t copy content straight from your website or other directories to avoid duplication issues.

Use characters wisely in you posts as well. The first 45 characters of any post will feature as the page title in search results.

Create a rich experience. Use all the tools at your disposal. Upload photos, videos and your kids’ drawings. Visual cues do well and attract readers to content. Google+ also supports GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format), which will attract more views than a standard image.

Contributors can sign up for Google Authorship, so if you have different people creating content for your site or, posting material, they can sign up as an author, effectively creating another trusted link, helping with web authority in search rankings.

Add a Google Map on your ‘Contact Us’ page. We have found that this has helped some listings get up into the Maps section in the search results. For an example, see:
http://www.resultsfirst.co.nz/contact-us/

Google + can help you obtain quick wins by getting on page 1 in the Maps section. If you’re having trouble with duplicate pages or getting yours up in the search listings, contact Results First.