Friday, 29 June 2012

Using Google Plus to Get Traffic

Contrary to popular belief about Google Plus (or Google+) being a ghost-town, the fact is that the social network has actually seen a steady growth in traffic levels and monthly visitors. In March 2012, there was a 27% rise in Google Plus’ traffic, which means that as many as 61 million people visited the social networking site.

Furthermore, according to Larry Page, Google Plus now has 100 million active users.

However these traffic levels are nothing to be particularly proud of, considering the fact that Facebook is getting almost 10 times more traffic (it now has an excess of 900 million active users), and even Twitter has an excess of 100 million active monthly users. Other relatively-newer social networks such as Pinterest are on the rise, and are getting a lot of traffic while generating a large amount of outbound traffic. 

But what’s particularly encouraging from Google’s perspective is that fact that Google Plus is on the rise, and has enjoyed a steady growth as far as monthly visits are concerned, especially in the last one year. Google’s social networking website still has the potential to bring inbound traffic and visitors to your website.

How to Get Going on Google Plus

For starters, create your profile and fill it up with all information. This includes your personal and professional information. And above all, include all your links, including the link to your website.

Add a photo or an avatar to your profile, preferably of yourself. What you want to do here is make your profile seem genuine, so that other Google Plus users add you back to their circles.

Try making your profile stand-out, Google Plus now offers a cover photo, ala Facebook. This cover photo is prime real estate, and can be used to put just about any image up; maybe you having some fun with your friends, a photo of you from that photo-shoot, you speaking at a blogger’s convention, your company logo, the banner photo of your website/blog, the sky’s the limit here. Basically you want to make use of each profile element Google Plus has made available to you.

Once you’re done, try adding people to your circles (‘circles’ on Google Plus are the Facebook alternative of ‘Friend Lists’). Google Plus makes this easy thanks to the ‘Explore’ button. Your aim here is to add a few like-minded people and hopefully they too will follow you back.

Many people on Google Plus (and Twitter) use the follow-unfollow technique to gain more followers. While I don’t recommend doing this, it could get you a large number of followers.

In addition, put up some +1 buttons and icons on your blog, and add the link to your Google Plus profile underneath every post (as a signature). This will allow people to find you on G+ and add your to their circles easily.

Essentially, spend some time on Google Plus, building friendships, getting to know people and generally networking with other like-minded individuals.

Getting Traffic from Google Plus

First off, share all your posts on your Google Plus page, especially with the relevant circles. That is the beauty of Google Plus, it lets you organize all your connections by different circles (such as professional, acquaintances, etc.) and you have the ability to create your own circles and as many of them as you like. So if a post on SEO tips has gone up on one of your blogs, you can share it with the relevant circle(s).

You can divide all your connections on Google Plus according to interests using circles. This ability to group your followers will not only allow you to engage and share with like-minded people (especially useful when you’re running multiple blogs), you will also be able to get extremely targeted traffic this way.

Another way to promote your posts on Google Plus is to +1 pages on your website. +1 is Google Plus’s alternative to the like button. Doing this has two distinct advantages: the posts that you +1 will be shown to people who have added you in their circles on Google+, and these +1’d posts will also show up in Google SERPs who have you in their circles, whenever they look something up on Google using search queries relevant to the post, which means that +1 is a part of Google’s search algorithm.

Therefore, simply hitting +1 on a post can bring your post up from page 20 (or wherever in the SERP it might be) to page 1!  This can make up for the lack of SEO, because even if your on-site and off-site SEO metrics are weak, people in your circles will still get your posts and pages on the first page of the SERP.
If you have a reasonable number of people in your circles, who +1 your post, and provided that each of the people who do +1 your post have a good number of connections on Google Plus, this will give your post a lot of visibility, as well as appear on the first page of the SERP for a lot of people.

Like I said before, it is a good idea to install the +1 button in all your posts. Either on the sidebar, or underneath your post. There are tons of plugins that let you do this, depending on the platform you’re using, or you could get the HTML code from Google Plus’s support page and simple add the code to your website.

Lastly, make sure that you add people on Google Plus as possible, and that they add you back to their circles as well. Create different circles and add people to the relevant ones. When sharing something on G+, make sure that the people (or circles) who you share with are in the same niche as the content of your blog. Be careful about this, as adding too many people all at once will almost certainly make Google think you’re a spammer, disabling your account. 

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