Google Plus. It still strikes fear (or apathy) into the hearts of many bloggers, and I completely understand that… I was one of them. I’ve mentioned before that when I first joined Google+, I was not happy at all. It was confusing. I couldn’t see the point of it. However, I’m finding that more and more bloggers, especially as new bloggers come on the scene, are joining – and using – Google+.
I’ve written this post to give you an easy guide to the dos and don’ts of posting onto Google+, and how a carefully constructed Google+ post will create a big impact in others’ feeds, help your blog reach a larger audience and hopefully increase your PageRanking. (And talking of PageRanking, this is a great post specifically about increasing it).
The most important bit first: Don’t share directly from Blogger
This is the biggest mistake you can make when sharing your post to Google+! If you use Blogger there is an option to automatically share your posts on Google+ when you publish a post (SAY NO), or you can share it afterwards where you have the Edit / Preview / Share options in your posts list (DON’T). The image below of a tweaked screengrab shows the difference between the sizes of a post shared automatically and a post you simply create yourself. The next points will explain exactly how to achieve that large, glossy post and make yours really stand out.
1. Upload a picture first
Always start your post from scratch on your Google+ page, and, just like posting on Facebook, start with the “Share what’s new…” box. Don’t type first – click on Photos first. Then upload your most powerful image from your blog post, and only then start typing in the box. This will create a full size picture rather than the little thumbnail you see above.
Remember we are stimulated by visuals – our eyes are caught by pretty pictures before we read text (think Pinterest feed).
2. Write something that compels the reader to read the rest of the post
Don’t waste the opportunity to grab the reader’s attention with a catchy title! Instead of “New post” or “Blogged” (why do people write such unimaginative things?), write something to make the reader go Oooh, I must read that. The classics are How To…, 7 Ways To…, 5 Reasons To…, etc. It should be as compelling as your actual blog post titles (and if they’re not drawing readers in, then perhaps rethink those, too).
3. Use asterisks to make text *BOLD*
This is a little trick I learned only recently: if you add asterisks around a word or phrase in Google+ it will make it *bold*. I always add my blog name in the text somehow (so people get to know my blog name as well as my Google+ name Catherine Summers) and I make Not Dressed As Lamb bold to make it stand out in the text.
4. Like Twitter & Facebook, copy in brands’ names
Just as you would in Twitter, you should make a brand aware that you’ve featured something you’ve bought (or been gifted) from them by mentioning their Google+ name in the post. To do this, type a + symbol followed immediately by their name. Not all brands are on Google+, but if they are you will be given a list of matching suggestions as you type. If you’re lucky they may share your post to their followers, giving it even more exposure and hopefully more click throughs to your blog.
5. Use bitly.com to make links – don’t paste in the actual URL of your post
Of course once you’ve added a picture, then written your text and copied in brand names, you must add a link to your blog post. This is the biggest mistake I see: really long URLs that are split across two lines which look really messy. It’s such a shame when a fantastic post is ruined by a messy URL – they ain’t pretty, people! Instead, create shortened links using www.bitly.com. If you’ve never used it before, it will open up a world of possibilities for you – it can be useful for all sorts of applications.
As well as creating short, neat links, you can track how many clicks that link has had and when (amongst other things). If you create an account (it’s free), all your links will be saved so you can access them at any time. Stop pasting long URLs now and use short links instead!
6. Use hashtags to attract new followers who may like and share your post
Want to increase the chances of your post being seen by a new audience? Use hashtags! You can add them into the text or, as I do, in a list at the end. When you type the hashtag and the start of a word, you will get a little box with suggestions (same as Twitter and Facebook), e.g. #fashio… will give you #fashion, #fashionblog, #fashionblogger, #fashionstyle. I try not to add more than 2-3 lines of hashtags, which usually allows me to add about 10. This Google+ post about whether you should care about hashtags is worth a read.
7. Join blogging communities and upload posts there
I’d been posting onto my own Google+ feed for a while before I discovered that there was such a thing as Google+ communities – these are “places for people to get together and talk about the interests that they share“. You join an existing community or even create a new one yourself – it’s just the equivalent name to a Facebook group; I’ve always found that I get a lot of interaction through posting directly onto fashion blogging-related communities.
There are many you can join, but as a start check out United Fashion Bloggers, Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) and a new one for us oldies: 40+ Fashion Bloggers. Join a few and post to them regularly to see your interactions and followers shoot up.
The reason for doing all of this
Google+ is really no different in terms of usage than Twitter or Facebook. You have followers, you post something, they see it on their feed – that’s really all there is to it. I prefer it to Facebook as it’s more aesthetically pleasing, simpler and nowhere near as fiddly and confusing (to me), but look how many people use Facebook.
I’m convinced that posting on Google+ has helped my PageRanking, as I was noticing within a few days that the latest post I’d added to Google+ was appearing nearer and nearer the top of a Google search with the keywords I’d used.
So try out these tips and let me know if any of them help you at all – I’d love to know how you get on!