10 Tips: How Not to Use Google Plus

Krista Bunskoek
Krista Bunskoek Content Marketer, Wishpond

Posted on August 2nd 2013

10 Tips: How Not to Use Google Plus

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on Google Plus lately. I know, I’m geeking out. But it’s quickly becoming my favourite social media platform these days. It’s an incredible way to meet new people, connect with prospective customers, and deepen relationships with your consumers - and more than on most social sites.

I know a lot of businesses don’t quite get it. It is a huge site, and there’s always new features being added (hey, it’s Google). Even the features that are on it have so much depth, lots of businesses just don’t have the time to learn them all - and actually use them.

That said, I keep seeing lots of mistakes by companies, large and small, being made over and over again. I thought I’d give you a rundown of these - so you won’t have to make them!

Here are the 10 top mistakes on Google+. 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #1: Not Completing Your Profile


Set up a business page if you using Google+ for your company. It helps your SEO!

It’s really easy to set up a company page on Google+. It’s similar to making a business Page on Facebook in that you need to have a personal G+ to make a business site, you categorize your business, give your location (ah - VERY important for Google Places) and so on.

It’s ok to post as yourself too, but make sure your company is up on the site. Otherwise, you miss the opportunity to link back to it, reference it, and do all those kinds of things to raise your business profile, and SERP (search engine results page) ranking.

When you’re making your business profile:

  • Don’t miss the chance include your business keywords in your tagline and introduction.
  • Google gives you the opportunity to include all your other social site links. Use it.
  • Include your website, and location (particularly if you have a bricks and mortar store).


All of this works to give you better SEO, to be found, and  it makes you more marketable to your customers, as you describe your business.

Here’s an example of a company on GooglePlus who have messed this up. They didn’t complete their introduction, or location. Their tagline does give you an idea of their business -but they missed the chance to communicate trust with their market, and give details of their products (with those lovely searchable keywords).

 

google plus best practices


They need to include who they are, what they provide, how to buy their wares, and where they are (particularly if they don’t have online sales).

Use your profile to market your business. Describe your products or service. Include your location.  You’ll get found on both G+ and - Google search.

Don’t mess this up!

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #2: Keyword Stuffing your Profile


Do you hate this as much a I do? Don’t stuff your G+ profile with keywords only. This will not get you ranked higher for SEO.

Keyword stuffing is a really old marketing trick. But it just doesn’t cut it with Google’s semantic search anymore.

Google’s semantic search is a super huge, complex technical process. (Like, I can imagine thousands of super brilliant math and tech people dedicating their every waking minute to making search increasingly better for you and me.) But, in a nutshell, Google’s semantic search is trying to rank pages for their consumers (yes, Google has customers too - you and me - and everyone), based on the best quality, and relevant content. Google’s current (and ever evolving) search, kind of ‘reads’ your content, and sorts it for search.

Stuffing your profile with keywords like: “wedding dresses, wedding dresses, wedding dresses” is just not cool anymore. Google reads this like we would. It’s spam.

Write for your customers, using your natural descriptions. Pay attention to the details you provide, and include a selection of your product names, or services. Your consumers will appreciate it - and Google will too.

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #3: Using a Bad Cover Image


A few months ago, Google+ had a design makeover. One of the significant changes included a larger cover image.

You can’t load a cover image that’s less than the minimum 480 pixels wide by 270 pixels high. It’s better to use something closer to the maximum 2120 x 1192 pixels, so your image will be clear. Also, make sure your image scales to the right dimensions, and you take the location of your profile image into account.

Don’t make your cover image grainy. Don’t use a poorly proportioned image. Don’t use a badly placed image. Don’t use a cover like this one:

 

google plus mistakes to avoid

 

If you have the talent in-house, or the money to outsource it - get creative and make your cover image something to talk about. Check out cool examples like GE's page.

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #4: Not using Circles


Google plus allows you to segment the people you follow. For businesses, this means you can send out targeted posts to targets circles of connections you have. Yes, pretty cool.

You can, for example, generate Circles for in-store customers; online customers; partners; industry leaders; business friends; coworkers; etc.

 

how to use google plus


Make sure you use them. And then, make sure you use them well.

Write targeted updates to send out to targeted groups. For example, Whole Foods frequently posts different updates linking to the same blog post on their website. If they had their Circles set up, they could get a bit more clever. They could actually direct their various G+ posts to specific, targeted markets.

This update to their blog post about strawberry recipes, could be targeted to a ‘Customer’ circle, for example:

 

optimize google plus profile

This update with “Got strawberries?” could be directed to ‘Public’ and ‘Extended Circles’ (‘Extended Circles’ gets your updates posted to Circles of your Circles).

 

google plus for social media marketing

 

They could make other updates too, to send out to ‘Suppliers’, and any other targeted groups.

Using Circles can extend the life of your updates (and blog posts), and can your them to resonate better with each of your segmented connections.

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #5: Spamming your Circles


Circles are a great way to target your posts to reach your targeted consumers. Don’t overuse or abuse them.

For example, let’s say one of your Circles is relatively small and close-knit. It could be an business association (like the Chamber of Commerce) you belong to, or even co-workers. Don’t post your update to them AND send them an email to notify those in your Circle about your recent post:

 

best practices for google plus

 

Like on Facebook, Google has algorithms for what posts get seen in your People’s news feed.The email option lets you make sure an important post will reach the Circles you need it to (like to customers, if you’re posting about a social contest marketing campaign, for example).

(Another cool thing about sending your G+ via email is that you can select individuals in your Circles to send an email to. If, for example, you +mention an industry leader in your blog post, you can send an email to them directly, and to a few of your coworkers or good customers.)

But don’t overuse this function! It’s particularly annoying if your Circles have not asked you for continual updates! It’s spam.

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #6: Posting Only About Your Product


If you’re using Google+, and you understand enough to be on it regularly - you’ll know not to do this social media faux pas.

Social media is about interacting with your customers, networks and clients. People do not like to hangout with people who only talk about themselves. The same is true about getting updates from companies who are only posting about themselves.

Remember the 80/20 rule in social media? 80% of your posts should be about lifestyle, customers and stuff other than you; 20% should be about you and your products.

This is called engagement.

I love to pick on real estate agents for this one. They are kind of notoriously bad at social media marketing. Here’s a great example of how not to post:


g plus

 

I would really think realtors would know better, given the emotional sale involved in buying a home. Why don’t they get that social online is like social offline? They’re still selling to their clients when they’re using social media.

This posting could have been written something like:

“Have you ever wanted the luxurious lifestyle of taking a cool dip in your luscious backyard pool surrounded by the privacy of full grown palm trees?

With 7 bedrooms and 3 full baths, this could be the one for you.

Join me this Sunday, July 28 for an exclusive look.... 598 Northeast 56 St., Miami”

(Instead of tagging it with “pool” tag it with “Miami” “luxuryhomes”, etc.)

It’s social media, and your customers want more from you. Don’t just post your product on Google+, and then be disappointed when you haven’t sold anything.  

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #7: Ignoring Negative Comments


Another big no-no is not addressing negative comments on your posts. Bad comments will happen. It’s an open forum, and not everyone is going to agree with you, or even like what you do.

As a business, it’s important that you keep monitoring all of your social sites. You need to judge how to respond to comments on your updates. It’s important to listen to your customer, right? You need to show that you do this. Address the concerns of your negative commentators quickly and smartly to avoid an escalation of negative feelings towards your business.

For example, if it’s

  • a complaint about a product, ask them to email you so you can look into their specifics.
  • a negative comment about your company, try to address their particular issues, to turn it into a positive.
  • a nasty comment about your post, try to communicate.

In the end, you may not be able to please the commenter, and it may go unresolved. That’s ok - as long as you’ve actually tried to listen. (If it’s an inappropriate comment - delete it, but I’d try to tell the commenter first - not doing so can lead to even more PR problems for you...)

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #9: Not Joining Communities


Communities are a huge part of what makes G+ great. Find communities that suit your business niche, and join them.

Communities were introduced on Google+ in late 2012. They were kind of a response to Facebook groups, and to Twitter #hashtag communities, and maybe LinkedIn groups. Google+ Communities are growing quickly, and can be incredibly engaging. Basically, they are a way to find your niche interests online, and interact with them.

To find Communities, click on “Communities” in the left hand drop box:


google plus

 

Google will give you recommendations on Communities to join (based on your G+ updates), or you can search for relevant groups.

There are Communities from Accountants on G+ to Z’s Proxy Factory, and everything in between.

 

image

 

If you really can’t find your niche community yet, you can make your own and invite followers to join. There are a lot of small business groups, though (like Entrepreneurs, Self-Employed & Small Business, Small Business, and Social Media Trends for Small Business). So even if you’re not finding your customers, join a few business-related ones - start to network, and you never really know where those connections will lead you.

If you’re not using Communities, you’re missing out on an amazing way to connect with your customer online. Use them!

But don’t abuse them by only posting spam, and only about yourself. Engage, share others’ posts, comment. Treat Communities like a networking breakfast, or trade show. These can be your customers! Give them respect and interest, and they will likely reciprocate!

 

How not to use Google+ Mistake #10: Posting Without Comments


Last, but not least, I have to mention this pet peeve! Do not post a link - and not include at least a brief comment!

Not only does this make you look thoughtless, these posts have low engagement. Posting an update with no introduction gives no motivation to read it, let alone +, share or comment on.

 

image

 

To be successful in social media, you need to make an effort. Post with something interesting to say!

 

**Bonus Mistake: Not having a G +1 Button


Does this one go without saying!?! Make sure your product pages, blog post pages, website and other other relevant landing pages have an easy to click G +1 button!

 

image

 

If you don’t have one, get your +1 Button now.

Make it prominent on the pages you want shared on this massive social networking site.  

Conclusion


Thanks for reading. Now you don’t have to make these mistakes yourself, right?

Krista Bunskoek

Krista Bunskoek

Content Marketer, Wishpond

I do Content Marketing/ PR for Wishpond. Wishpond makes online marketing software. My numerous marketing books include Google AdWords for Small Business and Website Contests and Promotions. With my background in PR (both online and offline), it's no wonder I'm passionate about all things social and modern day communications. I'd love to connect with you over on Twitter too: @kbunskoek

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Comments

Hi! Congratulations for the nice post. We have an small question, and it is regarding the cover image.

Do you know exactly how big should it be? Or if there any restriction regarding the text content of it?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Best Regards,

Irene

Hi Irene. Thanks, I'm glad you like my post!

With regards to a Google+ cover image, you can upload an image as large as 2120 pixels wide x 1192 pixels high. The minimum size is 480 x  270 pixels - but as stated in my post, I'd use a larger image so it's not grainy. As far as I know, at the moment, G+ has no restrictions on the text content (unlike Facebook).

Hope that helps!

 Krista

 

 

Hi Krista,

Many thanks for your answer!

Hi, Irene:

Here's a handy guide for you: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – Complete Social Media Image Size Guide [INFOGRAPHIC] http://bit.ly/1cD8gfu.

Mike

 

Hi, Krista:

Very nice post. I especially like the "Not Spamming" and "Cover Photo" topics.

Regarding the latter, for those small businesses who don't have an in-house graphics department, I have found a cool little online app that can help them with Facebook and Google+ cover photos - and more. It's called http://quotescover.com and is amazingly easy to use - though it does have its limitations. But what do you expect for free! Kudos. Keep the good stuff coming.

Mike

Thanks Mike! And thanks for the tip on easy to make cover images!

This was the first article that I've read. I'm glad that I chanced upon this site.

If this article gives any indication of what to expect, then sign me up!

Thanks

Jimivega

Plus Size And Sassy

Businesses have not really embrace G+. I think it will take some time for them to fully understand how helpful it is. I like the tips that you gave Krista. Complete your profile and try to engage with your circle. Those are the two most important things to remember for me.

 

Thanks Belinda. Glad you got something from my article. I'm finding that once you get into G+ it can be a very powerful social network, with incredible depth from Communities to Google hangouts, and more... As you suggest, businesses will get this - eventually!

Hi, Krista!

This article was spot on. One thing that can be said about many of the points you mentioned is that several of these can extend to social media platforms in general, not only Google+. For example, companies who fail to follow the 80/20 rule seem to be missing out on the engagement and conversational environment that social media was created to provide to users in the first place. I find myself unfollowing more and more of these companies every day on Twitter and Facebook because the engagement is no longer there. Thanks for a great read!

Great comments Justina! Thanks for reading!

Thanks for this hepful article.  I still struggle with all of the capabilities of Google+.  This article took me one step further. 

Google+ is rather massive! Glad to help. :)

Good article Krista.  Started using a few of the items you pointed out right away and will share with my social networks.

Joe Wozny

Author of The Digital Dollar, Sustainable Strateggies for Online Success

:) Thanks Joe!

Excellent list and in lock step with these, let me add: Treating it like every other network.

A la your Whole Foods example, it's a waste of time and resources to put the same info, the same way across every network. G+ does have its own rich features, better to make smarter use of them. One of the best benefits of it I've seen is scale; it's not huge so your updates and shares have a good chance of being noticed. Like responding to negative comments, responding to community posts or commenting elsewhere - all of that engagement may build more traction, more sticking power than other platforms. 

And FWIW, I'd apply most of these rule right back to most other business/company social network profiles that routinely make all these 'sell, push, ignore, spam' mistakes. 

Great comments, Davina. You clearly have a good grasp of G+... and social media in general! :)

Great guide, Krista. Google+ seems like uncharted waters to many businesses, so this is useful in navigating them. Although a lot of the platform's functionality is similar to other channels, the communities clearly run a little bit differently and circles are a big advantage to G+. Not to mention the SEO value by using the channel! It will be interesting to see hpw the platform evolves, especially in relation to others.

Hi Krista,

Thanks for the very practical post on google +, complete with screenshots! I especially appreciated the integration of gmail into circles. I agree with you that's its a great network, and I think as social media gets more sophisticated, those spammers will be relegated to the back seat! I think google's circles and communities, as well as the gmail integration, are a testament to it's understanding of the power of personalization. Tamar, Insightera

Thanks Tamar. Great insightful comments.

Hi Krista, good article thanks.  I have been using google+ for a while now and posting stuff maybe twice a week.  I got a nasty email the other day that I'm spamming someone.  I don't understand this because a) I never check the email box, and b) I couldn't even find the guy in my circles.  Do people get emails notifying them of my shares even if I don't check the email box?  Is google plus connected to youtube your youtube subscribers or similar people?  I thought it's all kinda like twitter and that it shows up on their pages like tweets and they can choose to read it but seems like its sending out emails to people everytime you do something and the only way around is if THEY change something in their own settings.  Any help or feedback would be great.  I tried contacting google about this but no luck getting answers.  thanks. L

 

Hmm, not 100% sure why this would be happening. Do you post to Communities? He could have his notifications setting on.... Other than that, I wouldn't consider posts twice a week "spam" (provided they're the good quality content you likely post, of course).

If you don't really know the guy - you could just ask him to stop following you! :)

Anyone else have this experience?

Great post on Google+! I would be lying if I said I agreed on 100% of it. After reading it, I am not clear on what the outcome is of most of these mistakes. For example, what happens if your cover photo is grainy? Do you lose credibilty in any way? What are the cons to a grainy cover photo? Does Google say anywhere in the terms that these are in fact mistakes? I understand that a lot of these should be common sense in the social media world like posting without comments and some are just plain annoying, but who is determening these are actual mistakes and not just things that the author of this post just dislikes about Google+? Basically, Google+ is just like Google SEO. Post good, original content and don't annoy anyone and you should be good. I use at least 10 Google+ business pages and I have never seen what I would consider a keyword stuffed profile. Is that really common? What would be the motive in keyword stuffing anything much less a Google+ profile? What would someone be attempting to accomplish in stuffing a profile with focus keywords? Ranking in the SERP? I have no idea. As I read this post, I feel like I should be informed of what will happen if you make these mistakes, but the article like lots of articles on social media, doesn't deliver that. Other than that, I liked it. I found this post by typing in the search box "how to use Google+ to help your real estate seo" and the number 1 result was a article I wrote on JA Publications. However, I did zero SEO on the post. Are you starting to see where I am going with this? Who is to say what is a mistake? According to probably thousands of self proclaimed SEO experts, my blog post should not be number 1 on Google. After all, I did literally no SEO on it. WordPress picked the URL.

You bring up some good points to consider, Jeff.

As to your last point, however, I will say that you will probably not get your own blog post as the #1 result on Google if you clear all your browsing data, cookies, and history in whatever browser you use. I tried googling "how to use Google+ to help your real estate seo" and didn't see your article there.  SEO is important!

My result is number 1 in the world with a cleared cache and on a VPN. If you would like to see it for yourself, go to Google, clear your cache, log out of Google or any Google services and type exactly this: using google+ to help your real estate seo. And yes, I know SEO is important. SEO is how I make a living so it's very important. However, what Google ranks as high sometimes has nothing to do with commonly practiced SEO techniques.

 

Hmm, when I type it in exactly that way (on a browser cleared of all history and zero cache - actually it was on Google Chrome, which I never use), it does come up as the number 2 result.  However, when I typed in "how to use google+ to help your real estate seo" as per your first comment, your article does not appear on the first page (didn't check the rest).  The number 1 result for both searches was http://socialmediatoday.com/steve-rayson/1600736/ten-ways-google-plus-will-improve-your-seo.

You are clearly missing the point. Whether my post is number 1 or number 2 is irrelavent. What's relevant is that I did zero SEO on the post or webpage and Google ranks it number 1, or in your case number 2. The reason I used my site as an example was not to get visitor traffic.I didn't even include my URL. I simply used it as an example for what I was saying in my comment. Self proclaimed experts are always giving out lists of do's and don'ts on topics, whether it's social media, SEO, or technology in general, but rarely will they include what happens as a result or show anything factual if you do or don't do what they say. That's all. I did not try to become number 1 for that keyword phrase. It just happened. According to any so called SEO pro, that post should not have been on the first page must less number 1 or 2.

Oh, I certainly wasn't implying that you were trying to get clicks or traffic.  And I agree that your post gets very high ranking if you put in that exact phrase from your second comment.  However, the first phrase you gave me in your original comment, if you put that into a "clean" browser, your article doesn't come up at all on the first page.  That's all I was trying to say.  

At any rate, it's great that you get such high ranking for your article!  Google has been moving away from the most complicated SEO somersaults and toward solid, good, original content that gives people what they are looking for (most recently through Hummingbird), so kudos to you for your quality content, Jeff.  (Still, we are of the opinion that there's a place for SEO best practices in certain situations -- better safe than sorry.)

Maybe this will help you...


Copy and paste the below text into a Google search box:

using google+ to help your real estate seo

My post is usually the first or second position under the ads, and the fact that it is, means nothing to me. Like I said, I ranked high without even trying.

I usually do not read sites like this. Being that I work 7 days a week in the industry, I don't need to read on the subject. My knowledge comes from work experience and a solid education in marketing and computer science & engineering. I never read what self proclaimed experts write usually unless they work for Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Matt Cutts would be a perfect example of someone that I would take advice from.

Have a good day!

 

Thanks for the comments, George. This article is meant as a practical common sense guide for marketing on G+. It is not meant to outline rules and regulations from Google itself. 

It sounds like you are already well versed on how to engage and market on this site. Congrats on your #1 serp ranking too.  Google is continuously updating its search algorithms, so kudos to you.

I really appreciate your focus on basics here, Krista. So often these kinds of articles leave newbies with big gaps in their knowledge or appreciation for the culture of a social media platform, and you've really helped me in a couple of areas. I found it so useful that I shared it today on my blog for small business owners and managers. 

Hello,

Your artical was very helpful. I do however have a question. While researching the proper way to use Google+ for our business, I am having a hard time trying to find which page we should regularly post on. There are profile, local, and your Google+ page. Do you recommend any page we should post on? Or do you post the same content on all of them? 

Thank you,


Rayanne