Google+ for Business: An Introduction

As a business owner there are many reasons why you should learn about Google+ Pages for Business.  This provides your business with presence on Google+ and use it in a variety of ways to promote your products/services, interact with customers and prospects and take advantage of all the things Google+ has to offer.  Read on to get the skinny on what Google+ Pages are all about.

Difference between a Google+ Profile and a Google+ Page

The basic element of using Google+ has been creating a Profile which is a personal account that allows you to share information and interact with their users. It wasn’t possible for you to create a presence for your business…until now. With the recent release of Pages it is now possible to use the many features that you’ve come to love about Google+ and use them in ways to attract and engage your customers.

Pages look and operate in a very similar way to Profiles so there isn’t a new learning experience to have to go through if you are already used to Google+ through Profiles. So for example there are Circles, Hangouts, the ability to share photos, videos, links, and other content you want your customers to read.

It is very easy to create a Page and you will see a link on the right side of your Home page under the heading of Google+ Pages which allows you to start the Page creation process.

There are 5 categories to choose from when creating your page:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution, or Organisation
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other 

Once you’ve created your Page you can customise it in very similar ways to the way you would have created your Profile with the ability to post a photo or logo, enter a 10 word tag line and fill out other information about your business and links to your website/blog.  Take the time to do this as this is a shop window for your business so you want to make it as attractive as possible for your followers and customers.

What are the key features of Google+ for Business Pages?

When you are using the Page everything you do on Google+ will show as being from the Page and not from your personal Profile. The kinds of things you can do as a Page are:

  • Engage with other Google+ users by +1’ing content, commenting, resharing posts.  This engagement is at the heart of any social network and is a good way to raise your Page’s visibility and attract people to your content.
  • Start and Join Hangouts. This is a great way to interact with your customers face-to-face online and is one of the unique elements of Google+ compared to other social networks.

  • Mention people in posts and comments (who’ve already added or mentioned you)

Tips for promoting your Google+ for Business Page

So just creating a Page and interacting with others isn’t enough so you know need to take active steps to promote your Page. These are some tips for doing this:

Keep your content fresh and post regularly. People are more likely to visit and engage on your page if you are posting useful content on a regular basis.

  • Spread the word. Use this feature from your Page which is located on the right side of your page to promote your page to your Circles to make them aware. When you do this the post will appear from your Personal Profile and not as the Page to add a little element of personalisation.

I encourage you to start exploring Google+ Pages and seeing what ways you can take advantage of them for your business.  If you already have a presence on Facebook then you really should get a presence on Google+ too as there are some similarities and some interesting differences.

Advertisements

How to mute and unmute a post in Google+

Google+ has nice feature giving you the ability to mute a post but un-muting it isn’t as easy as it should be so I wanted to share this information with you here.  I’ll show you why and how you would mute a post and also how to un-mute a post.

The mute feature is useful when you may have +1’d or commented on a post and as a result you get notifications for all the other comments made which is good if you want to stay in the conversation.  However there are times things get too noisy or the conversation goes “off-topic” so you can mute the post to no longer get any more notifications about it. How you mute the post is simply by click on the arrow in the top right corner of the post and select the Mute this post option as show here:

This will collapse the post and it will display the following which gives you the ability to un-mute the post:

Now that’s all fine and dandy!  The problem is when you later or decide that you want to un-mute the post because there is no display where it shows you a list of all the posts that you’ve un-muted for you to choose from.  What you need to do in this instance is to find the stream that displayed the post that you unmuted and there you will see the same message as above in the same place where you can click Undo mute. Alternatively if you remember the person whose post you muted you can go to their posts and similarly un-mute the post.

Hopefully Google will make this process easier by having a page displayed where you can see all muted posts but for now this is the only way to do this.

Another way to get questions answered if Google Search doesn’t give you what you need.

A new feature has quietly appeared in the last few days in Google Search which allows you to ask a question on Google+ for something you are looking for.  You have to be logged in to your Google account to be able to see this option otherwise you’ll just see the regular results appear.

So for example let’s say that I’m looking for ideas on sighseeting in New York and I type this into Google Search. At the bottom of my results page I will see this feature which will say “Want to ask your friends about new york sightseeing? Ask on Goole+

Want to ask your friends about new york sightseeing? Ask on Google+

 When you click on the Ask on Google+ link it will create a Post with some text conveniently filled in for you that you can add to and then you can click on the Ask button when you’re done.  You fill in the post as you would do any others deciding which Circles you want to ask this question to etc.

Are you seeing this yet and have you tried it?  How has it worked out for you?

Join Google+ Hangouts from your iPhone

Did you know that you can join Google+ Hangouts from your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad etc) making this feature even more accessible and allowing you to interact with people even when you are out and about.  If you are not familiar with Hangouts then have a quick look at this short video.

Google+ Hangouts is one of the best of things about connecting with people socially as it takes the interaction to another level with the ability to connect with multiple people face-to-face and being able to do this from you iOS device is a welcome feature.  Not only does this work over WiFi but it also works well over 3G connectivity.

At present you cannot start a Hangout you can only join an existing one.  So as you’re scrolling through the posts in your Google+ stream you may see the Join This Hangout button – go right ahead and jump in if you want to and see it for yourself.

Let me know if you want to take part in a Hangout and I might just arrange one for everyone to test out.

Keep Calm – Google changed their Search Algorithm!

Image

Last week Google announced a change to their Search algorithm which caused a bit of a panic amongst some people.  Let me tell you why you should not panic and worry about it.  Google are always striving to provide people with the best search results fast and having used it since its early days I believe they’ve done a great job which is why they are where they are today. The problem they have been seeing and getting reports from users on is that often they will click on a link from the search results and the site they visit is full of too many ads above-the-fold which makes it difficult to find and see the actual content they are looking for. This is not a great user experience and I’m sure many of you like me have been there and understand how frustrating this can be.

What Google are NOT doing with this change is penalising people for having ads on their sites and ranking those sites with no ads higher in the search results.  I really wanted to make sure this is clear as this perception is what caused some people to panic.  Instead they are really looking to give people results which contain a reasonable amount of ads and provide the content for which they have been ranked and returned in the results.

Their focus for making this change is to improve the user experience and this is an important point to bear in mind to understanding why the change is being made.  If you are committed to providing good quality and relevant content without filling up most of the page with ads then this change should not affect you unfairly. I for one welcome this change as I think most users want to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily and support what Google are doing to continue to make this experience better and better.

Keep Calm – don’t get stressed by this change and continue to focus on providing good quality content.

Is your blog popular? Tell everyone about it!

This week I got a few Likes on my blog posts from Lesley Carter so I went to have a look at her blog. I enjoy travelling so the blog appealed to me and I’m so glad I checked it out because I found some impressive blog stats – almost 8,000 followers and over 290,000 hits in less than 6 months !!

One of the things that Lesley has on her blog which I recommend you also include if you’ve got a lot a good number of followers and/or get a lot of hits is to show these statistic off.  Here is how it’s displayed:

This is what is known as Social Proof.  It’s like when you go to a restaraunt and depending on how empty or full it is your decision to eat there or not is influenced.  The same goes for things in the online world where if you see these kinds of statistics you’re more likely to follow since so many other people are doing so and this has a snowball effect which is very effective. 

So my call to action to you is simple – if you have a good amount of followers and/or get a lot of hits then you should display this prominently and proudly as it will definately help influence others who visit your blog.

Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think it’s harder these days to get people to engage and leave comments on blog posts.  Best practice recommendations include having at the end of your blog post a call to action which may include a request to leave a comment which is fine but what if your blog post is one where you want someone to go away and do something?  And really ending all of your blog posts with a line that invites them to leave a comment is going to make your blog posts boring so you want to have the freedom to end in different ways.

The standard text that is above the comment box in WordPress simply says Leave a reply.  Not exactly inspiring is it?  Well – you can actually change this and make it a bit more exciting and compelling for people to leave comments on your blog posts.  Maybe you want to use the line that this blog post is titled “Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!” but I think that may sound a little desperate and other than the people who might feel sorry for you I’m not sure it’s going to work.

I’ll let you decide what works best for your blog and your audience but I just wanted to share with you the fact that you can change this if you wanted and weren’t aware of it.  So how do you do it? Well from the Dashboard select the option for Settings which will then open up a page with a lot of different things you can alter and set.  Right down at the bottom of the page there is a section titled Comment Form and there it display the current uninspiring Leave a reply which you change.

So now my call to action – I challenge you to go and change your prompt to something more interesting and compelling.  Surely you can do better than my What do you think?