Google AdWords: How to Ensure Your Advert Has a High Quality Score

Google AdWords: How to Ensure Your Advert Has a High Quality Score

Understanding how to use Google AdWords is vital part for marketing professional these days. It is the most popular form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and it allows you to advertise to the biggest potential audience by giving your product or company a more dominant presence on Google.

While AdWords can be an incredibly effective form of marketing, it can also become a huge waste of money if your campaign isn’t correctly configured and monitored. As such, the team here at Marketing.com.au thought that a series of ‘How to’ articles, all targeting effectively Google AdWords strategies, tips and tricks might just be in order. We’ve already run through How to Set Up a Campaign in 10 Simple Steps, so today, we thought we’d run through how Google ranks adverts based on relevancy and quality score.

What is AdWords?

AdWords is Google’s platform for PPC advertising. It is basically a way for you to pay to have an ad for your company or product appear on a relevant Google search engine result page (SERP). Advertisers bid on specific keywords, so that their ad appears when someone enters the keywords against which they are bidding into Google’s search engine. Users are able to set a budget for their advertising campaign, and only pay when people actually click on their advertisements.

Here are a few pertinent statistics for you on the enormous reach that AdWords has these days:

  • Google’s share of the global digital advertising market: 31%
  • Google’s share of the global digital mobile advertising market: 41%
  • Search ad revenue for Google in 2014: $38.4 billion
  • Estimated search ad revenue for Google in 2015: $44.5 billion

How Does Google Rank Adverts?

Google positions each ad depending on two main factors: your maximum bid and your ads quality score. As such, it is important that your adverts has as high a quality score as possible. Google assesses the quality of your ad by analysing the following factors:

  • Relevance of ad to the keyword trigger
  • Relevance of your ad to its landing page
  • Your advert’s click-through-rate (CTR)
  • Historical account performance (how you’ve performed in other Google AdWords campaigns)

As with most things Google related, relevance is the most important factor. Google wants to connect users with companies and products that match as closely as humanly possible with their search queries. If you provide this relevance in your advertisement, then Google will reward you with a higher quality score.

Your quality score has an enormous bearing on your campaign, not just because it helps to determine your advert’s position, but also because Google will charge you a lower cost-per-click (CPC) price if your ad has a high quality score.

How to Ensure Your Ads are Relevant and Have a High Quality Score

Basically, for your advert to be relevant and achieve a high quality score, your keyword choices must matches the message contained in your ads. For example, if someone searches for your keyword(s) and your ad shows up, would your ad seem directly relevant to their search? There are three possible relevance statuses that Google will reward with: above average, average, or below average. Obviously, if you receive a ‘below average’ score, then your advert isn’t going to be displayed too often.

The status that you are likely to be rewarded with, and how relevant your ad actually is, depends on three factors:

  • The relevance between your keywords
  • The relevancy of keywords in your ad groupings
  • The relevancy between your ad and its landing page

The first thing you need to do is generate a list of keywords for your AdWords campaign. You can do this using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. Simply click on the ‘Search new keywords using a phrase, website or category’ option and enter in the type of products or services you’d like to target. For the purposes of this example, we’re going to go with ‘used cars’:

Ad

Then, simply click on the ‘Get Idea’ button and the tool will generate a list of suggested ad groups and keywords for your campaign.

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These lists rank ad group and keyword ideas in order of their relevance as well as giving an idea of the bidding price they will attract. For example, if you attach your ad to the ‘best used cars’ keyword phrase your ad could appear 27,100 times a month, which is an enormous amount of exposure but it also means your ad could be clicked on 27,100 times and you’ll owe Google $2.28 for every click or $61,788. At that rate, your daily budget will disappear very quickly.

This is where relevance and understanding how AdWords operates is crucial. This list was compiled simply by typing in ‘used cars.’ It’s important you narrow down your search by including factors such as location – if you’ve got a used car yard in Melbourne, you might not want to be paying for people in Perth to click on your ad. If you only sell used Holdens, you don’t want to be paying for people clicking on your add who are looking for used BMWs.

You can account for these factors by creating a quality add that targets keywords that are specific to your advert, and specific to your specific. A good ad will lower your costs, give you a better quality score and generate more traffic from qualified leads, rather than random clickers.

Tips for Improving Your AdWords Campaign Relevance

We hunkered down, and came up with the following tips to help you improve your AdWords campaign relevance:

  1. Make sure your Ad Groups are spot on: you want to create an individual, specific ad group for each your specific products or services. The idea is have anywhere between 5 and 20 keywords per ad group. So, rather than create a generic advert for your ‘used cars’ business, and then lump 75 keywords in there, create a whole series of smaller, more specific ad groups. For instance, you might create an ad group for ‘used cars in Melbourne’, or you might be even more specific and take it down to the suburb level. You might have another ad group for ‘used BMWs for sale’, or ‘used Holdens’. You get the idea—be specific!
  2. Make sure your ads are as closely related to your keywords as possible: if you have an ad group for ‘used BMs for sale’, then make sure all the keywords are specific to that. So, don’t have ‘used Holdens’ in there as well. Divide and conquer.
  3. Make sure your landing page matches your advert: if your advert is all about used BMWs, then make sure your landing page to which the advert reverts is all about used BMWs too. Not only will this get you a better relevancy score from Google, it should also lower your bounce rate: your users will land on a page containing the content for which they were actually searching!
  4. Try to include your main keyword in your Display URL: if you have space (which is not always the case), include your main keyword in the display URL of your advert. If you don’t have space, then at least try to include a keyword in the Final URL. This is where specific landing pages come in handy.
  5. Make sure your advert wording is spot on: there’ll be more about this in next week’s article, but be sure that your ads include your keywords and that they aren’t too creative. Be specific and relevant, not pithy or amusing.

Improving ad relevance is well worth your effort. It results in overall improvement in the performance of your AdWords campaigns. If you improve your relevance, then your campaigns receive a higher Quality Score, which means your ads show in a higher position and translates into a lower cost-per-click, saving you money and getting you more clicks for a smaller price.

It really is a win-win situation!

Tune in next time when we take a look at how to write compelling AdWords adverts.

 

Sources:

http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/google-advertising-statistics/

Google AdWords: How to Set Up a Campaign in 10 Simple Steps

Google AdWords: How to Set Up a Campaign in 10 Simple Steps

If you’re not familiar with Google Adwords, then you’re missing out on an incredible online marketing opportunity. Google Adwords is the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform in the entire world. Understanding the ins and outs of Google Adwords is an incredibly complex topic. From creating effective ad groups, and relevant matching keywords to writing compelling AdWords adverts, there is so much to learn and master.

But today, we thought we’d start with the basics. We thought we’d take a look at the practical steps involved in setting up your very first Google AdWords campaign. With just a few simple steps, you’ll be on the road to pay-per-click success—it really doesn’t need to be as daunting as everyone makes out. Promise.

A Step By Step Guide to Setting Up Google AdWords

Step 1 – Create an Account

To begin, you’ll obviously need to head on over to the Google Adwords home page. Once there, you’ll need to sign in to your Google account. The ‘Sign In’ link can be found in the top right-hand corner of the screen (see image below). Keep in mind that you will need a Gmail email address in order to sign in to AdWords (or any other of Google’s applications for that matter). So, you may need to set this up first. Don’t worry though, Google will guide you through the gmail set up process, if needs be.

google-adwords

Step 2 – Create a Campaign

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be taken to a page that looks similar to that below. As you can see, there are no ‘enabled’ or ‘paused’ campaigns; that’s because we’ve never set one up using this account before. To get started, you’ll want to click on the big, red button that says ‘+ CAMPAIGN’.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.13.48 pm

Step 3 – Select the Appropriate Network

Once you’ve clicked on the button, you’ll see five different options appear in a drop down menu:

  • Search Network with Display Select
  • Search Network Only
  • Display Network Only
  • Shopping
  • Online Video

The option that is best for your advert will depend upon your objectives, and the type of advert you are creating. We won’t go into the details here (this could be another post all of it’s own). But, if you need further details, take a look at Google’s AdWords Help on this specific topic.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.16.43 pm

Step 4 – Select Campaign Settings

Next up, it’s time to select your campaign settings. The first few options are fairly straight-forward:

  • Campaign Name: it’s always best to choose something that is quite specific. Don’t just go with ‘July 2015’. Chances are, by July 2017, you might have forgotten exactly what it was you were trying to promote two years. So, give your campaign a name that you will remember. Include the products or services, or even main keyword that you are targeting, and then include a date as well.
  • Devices: by default, this will be set to all devices, and we suggest leaving it that way. Devices include desktop, mobile and tablet. These days, with ever-increasing mobile device usage, you can’t really afford not to have your ad shown on all devices.
  • Locations: fairly straight-forward – where do you want your ads to be shown? If you run a local, bricks and mortar store, and your AdWords campaign is being run to increase foot traffic, then you might only want your ad to show in the capital city where your bricks and mortar store is based. If you run an online business, then you’ll probably want your ad to run nationally, and maybe even internationally. You can choose countries, regions, states and postcodes. You can also choose to exclude locations based on your preferences. This section is important as it allows you to hone in on potential customers, instead of wasting money on people that aren’t relevant due to their location. If you have a clothes store in Brighton, there’s not much point advertising in Brooklyn.
  • Languages: similar to locations, you can choose what languages your advert will display in. 

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.24.38 pm

Step 5 – Set Your Budget and Bid Strategy

The next ‘group’ of settings are slightly more complex. They are focused on the budget for your campaign. This section includes:

  • Bid Strategy: you can select to either manually set your bids for clicks, or allow AdWords to set your bids. If you have a specific maximum amount that you’re willing to pay for each click, then go with the manual option.
  • Default Bid: in this box, you can then enter the maximum amount you’re willing to pay per click on your advert. Think carefully about this. What is a lead worth to your business? If you’re selling a product for $20, then there’s little point in setting a bid of $50 – clearly there’s no return.
  • Budget: in this setting, you can choose the total amount that you’re willing spend per day on your campaign. This is the most that Google can charge you for their PPC services. You can choose to either pay manually before the ad shows or you can set up an automatic payment for after the ad has been placed. Be careful when setting your budget, you can rack up clicks pretty quickly and you don’t want to spend your budget to quickly.

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Step 6 – Use Ad Extensions

Now we come to ‘Ad Extensions’. Some of the popular options include:

  • Location: this allows you to add your address and a phone number. This can help if you’re targeting a specific, local area, particularly for a bricks and mortar business.
  • Sitelinks: you can show multiple links beneath your advert using this page. You want to include a link to your ‘Special Offers’ page, or your ‘Online Quote’ page, or your ‘About Us’ page.
  • Call: this adds a phone number to your advert that can be tracked separately. It is quite handy for adverts that are running on mobile devices.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.50.06 pm

Step 7 – Save Your Settings

Once you’re happy that all the details you’ve entered into your settings are correct, click ‘Save and Continue’.

Step 8 – Create Your Ad

Now that you’ve got all your settings nailed down, it’s time to create your first ad. There are four lines in an Adwords ad:

  • Title: this can have 25 characters
  • Second and third lines: which can each have 35 characters
  • Display URL: which should contain the URL for the landing page you want users to see

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.56.06 pm

Before you write your first ad, you should do your keyword research first to ensure that you have the keyword in your title. You can research keywords and suggested tools by using the Keyword Planner tool, which can be found in the ‘Tools’ tab.

Step 9 – Select Keywords

After you have done keyword research, using Google’s Keyword Planner, enter your chosen keywords. When you’re starting out use a handful of good keywords that you’re certain will trigger your ad.

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Step 10 – Launch, Monitor and Optimise

Review everything. Make sure your ad and your keywords are the best possible match to ensure the highest possible relevancy. Check that your cost-per-click bid is set to what you can afford, as is your daily budget. Once you’re 100% happy, enter your billing information and send your ad out into cyberspace.

Once your ad is live, it’s important to check in regularly to monitor your campaign metrics such as cost per click, the number of impressions, number of clicks, ad position and also the best performing keywords. Test different ad copy variations and keywords. Tweak the campaign settings to further optimise your campaign for the best conversions.

Google AdWords also have a very handy AdWords Help Centre which has lots of great information and tips which is well worth bookmarking.

Stay tuned, in the coming weeks we’ll take a look at ‘How to Write a Compelling AdWords Advert’ and also ‘How to Ensure Your Advert Has a High Quality Score’.

Why Going Mobile Friendly Is a Must After Google’s New Update

Why Going Mobile Friendly Is a Must After Google’s New Update

With constant changes in the world of the Internet, it does not surprise any more that there is a rising number of updates, alternations, guidelines and adaptations that are not seen as the most user-friendly ones at first. Even later, some changes have been better to have never happened because their supposedly good impact turned out to be more than average and non-existent, or purely negative.

Just remember all those updates on Facebook and YouTube – the advertisements and promoted features that were supposed to make these sites more appealing and interesting to new users, and yet still relevant to the old ones. However, not everyone appreciated these alterations being forced on them – some web pages are more personal than the others and every user feels that he or she should be the person making the decisions about the changes.

The same goes for the business websites and one of the most controversial recent updates, Google’s new mobile-friendly one, has not been appreciated unanimously. What does this update include, how does it change the world of small business and what are the changes that the web pages are about to experience?

The Mobile Friendly Change

In short, what Google has done is change the algorithm it uses to search through pages on the Internet and rank them by their key words and visibility. At the beginning of March, this search engine announced that in the future a key factor of searchability will be the presence or absence of web site’s mobile-friendliness.

So, starting from April 21, Google is looking into whether your site has a mobile friendly version or not and rank it based on this factor. All of this is announced as the “major change” and these words are feared by many – when Google announces something huge and important, nobody can know what this will mean practically.

The Impact

While this mobile friendly change does not matter a lot to a number of companies and while many people still do not realize what it will include, it is more than obvious that this will impact not only Google and the world of search engines, but pages by many companies, as well as people who are involved in this process.

From web designers to SEO experts and professionals who are looking into making their client as visible on the Internet as possible. So this change will affect not only the invisible and the abstract world of the Web, but real people with real jobs as well. And this may be the tipping point for some of them – Google’s change will have an impact on numerous lives at once and it will surely change the world of SEO and web programming as we know it.

What to Do?

What this means for owners of online businesses is that they have to adapt as soon as possible. So, tweak your websites to work on mobile platforms and hope that you will remain as relevant and visible on this new search algorithm by Google as you used to in the past.

Therefore the most important and, in the end, the simplest solution you can think of is to go mobile.

By announcing the change about seven weeks in advance, Google has basically given business owners three options:

  1. Adapt your Internet presence to a mobile context
  2. Hire a professional agency that will follow these updates or
  3. Become irrelevant when it comes to Google’s searches, which will ultimately mean the slow end of your business.

When it comes to agencies that are hired to follow and handle these updates, this may be the best option and an online strategy that you should look into. Leaving the job to the professionals will not only ensure you a stress-free transition, but also include complete care.

The Next Step

Provided that everyone interested is already informed about this change – and all companies will surely do so, for their own sake – what can be the next step in this process? Every website will be added a mobile version and stay in the race on the Google’s search list, and those that defy this will be avoided and missed by a number of visitors.

In time, mobile-friendly websites will become the new standard and, after some more time, everything will return to the way it used to be: countless websites fighting to be as visible as possible, only now in the mobile-friendly context. The competition will be smaller and only those that adapt will endure.

The Final Touches

Some of the other things you can include in your new strategy to stay afloat in this updated system are a better and improved SEO strategy and a more advanced linking tactics. The key may easily be the interconnectedness of desktop and mobile versions of your websites – despite all these new Google-induced changes, the majority of people will still remain loyal to the old types of websites and keeping them included in your new marketing strategy will be as vital as acquiring new visitors via the mobile-friendly approach.

If you are interested in reading more about the impact of this recent update, check out this post from Moz.

 

About the Author

Neil Adams is an Australia based entrepreneur and aspiring writer who’s been running his own online business for four years now. His interests are in the fields of marketing, startup culture, business psychology, self improvement and writing (Reborn, online marketing blog). When not in his home office he loves adventuring around Australia and beyond.

 

How to Write Compelling Online Copy

How to Write Compelling Online Copy

Writing compelling online copy is a tough job. Not only do you have to create effective copy for an easily distracted audience (that has an enormous amount of information at their fingertips), you also have to please the Google Gods. So, in order to achieve this, you have to craft compelling copy, copy that is engaging enough to make the browser sit up, pay attention, and keep reading.

SEO

When writing online copy you have to remember that you’re always writing for two audiences – the potential reader and Google. Ignore SEO best practice and your copy will be relegated to the back pages of Google, meaning all your hard work has basically come to nothing. Online copy is only compelling if it compels Google to put it on the first page. SEO is an in-depth topic in its own right and it is well worth the effort to take a course, or pick up a book on the ins and outs of SEO. We’d also recommend checking out this recent article on Marketing.com.au which summarised Rand Fishkin’s presentation on SEO at Problogger last year.

Killer Headline

Creating a headline that grabs attention is perhaps the most important skill a copywriter can have. It’s not easy to grab the attention of an online reader. They are easily distracted and always on the hunt for the next page, the next article, the next product. This is what makes the headline so important. There’s no point in spending hours crafting and honing perfect prose for your copy if your headline isn’t good enough to make someone read your article or page. Your headline is your first, and usually only, chance to be recognised, so spend some time on it.

No Filler

Write to your audience. The online reader is impatient, they want you to get to the point and get to it quickly. Online copy is not the place for flowery prose. Compelling online copy is about short, sharp, punchy sentences. Every sentence should contribute to the overall aim of the copy. One tedious, unnecessary sentence is all it takes for a reader to lose interest and move on.

Images

In the online world the image always wins. It doesn’t matter how good your copy is, or how interesting every sentence is, you still need imagery to hold interest. If an image can demonstrate what you’re trying to write, use it. Combining imagery with compelling text heightens your chance of being remembered. If the copy didn’t work, the image might.

Call to Action

Every piece of copy should be designed to elicit a specific reaction in the reader; your copy is only successful if the reader acts out the desired action. Understanding the psychology of the online reader is key in making this happen. The online reader is impatient, easily distracted, lazy and easily led. The online reader likes to be told what to do and how to do it. Don’t be afraid to marry your words with action. End the copy with a call to buy the product, try the service or call the number and make it easy to do so. Have a hyperlink direct them to the purchasing page, make your page mobile-friendly so they can automatically call by clicking on the number. The lazy online reader loves all these things, so give them what they want.

Psychology and advertising have always been inextricably linked. You have to know who you’re selling to, and when it comes to copy you have to know who you’re writing for. Writing online copy is a mammoth task, but, if you get it right all the things that make it difficult become advantages. Yes, the reader is easily distracted but once you’ve got their attention they’re easy to sell to. Yes, there is a mountain of information to compete with but once you have the skills you can ensure your copy stands on top, where it’s easy for the lazy browser to find you.

For some further reading, make sure you check out this recent Marketing.com.au article on The Content Marketing Matrix and How to Satisfy Your Readers Needs (as well as SEO Considerations).

Google Analytics Training

Learn how to measure and improve your online channels with Google certified experts from Loves Data.

Whether you’re new to online marketing and measurement, studying to take your individual qualification exams, in need of a refresher or wanting to boost your skills, these classroom-style courses will help take your knowledge to the next level. Loves Data provides comprehensive education programs which cover the latest features, present real world solutions and are Google approved.

Why should I attend?

  • You will learn essential skills and techniques in a small classroom setting. Get answers to your questions from Google certified experts and network with peers during breaks.
  • Google selects Loves Data to train their clients – so should you!
  • Accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive product training
  • Real world solutions presented by Google certified experts
  • Learn Google’s own best practices from setup to advanced features

This event will be held over two days. Participants can choose to attend on both days, or one or the other.

Google Analytics Training

Learn how to measure and improve your online channels with Google certified experts from Loves Data.

Whether you’re new to online marketing and measurement, studying to take your individual qualification exams, in need of a refresher or wanting to boost your skills, these classroom-style courses will help take your knowledge to the next level. Loves Data provides comprehensive education programs which cover the latest features, present real world solutions and are Google approved.

Why should I attend?

  • You will learn essential skills and techniques in a small classroom setting. Get answers to your questions from Google certified experts and network with peers during breaks.
  • Google selects Loves Data to train their clients – so should you!
  • Accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive product training
  • Real world solutions presented by Google certified experts
  • Learn Google’s own best practices from setup to advanced features

This event runs over two days. Participants can choose to attend both, or just the one.

Google Adwords Training

Learn how to setup, manage and optimise your Google AdWords campaigns with Google certified experts from Loves Data.

Loves Data’s training is designed to help you navigate this landscape. We focus on Google AdWords strategies, features and best practices that will make a difference to your business’ bottom line. Whether you’re a beginner or have years of AdWords experience, our expert trainers will provide actionable training to create and improve your campaigns.

Why should I attend?

  • You will learn essential skills and techniques in a small classroom setting. Get answers to your questions from Google certified experts and network with peers during breaks.
  • Loves Data has been presenting Australia’s leading Google AdWords training since 2009
  • Loves Data is the only Google-Certified AdWords trainer in Australia
  • Loves Data’s training is rated 5 out of 5, based on 183 testimonials
  • Loves Data prides their training on being accurate, accessible and actionable

This even runs over two days. Participants may choose to attend on both days, or just the one.

Google Analytics Training

Learn how to measure and improve your online channels with Google Analytics certified experts from Loves Data.

Whether you’re new to online marketing and measurement, studying to take your individual qualification exams, in need of a refresher or wanting to boost your skills, these classroom-style courses will help take your knowledge to the next level. Loves Data provides comprehensive education programs which cover the latest features, present real world solutions and are Google approved.

Why should I attend?

  • You will learn essential skills and techniques in a small classroom setting. Get answers to your questions from Google certified experts and network with peers during breaks.
  • Google selects Loves Data to train their clients – so should you!
  • Accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive product training
  • Real world solutions presented by Google certified experts
  • Learn Google’s own best practices from setup to advanced features

The course runs over two days, Thursday 26 February and Friday 27 February. Participants can opt to attend both days, or just one of the two.

Google AdWords Training

Learn how to setup, manage and optimise your Google AdWords campaigns with Google certified experts from Loves Data.

Loves Data’s training is designed to help you navigate this landscape. We focus on Google AdWords strategies, features and best practices that will make a difference to your business’ bottom line. Whether you’re a beginner or have years of AdWords experience, our expert trainers will provide actionable training to create and improve your campaigns.

Why should I attend?

  • You will learn essential skills and techniques in a small classroom setting. Get answers to your questions from Google certified experts and network with peers during breaks.
  • Loves Data has been presenting Australia’s leading Google AdWords training since 2009
  • Loves Data is the only Google-Certified AdWords trainer in Australia
  • Loves Data’s training is rated 5 out of 5, based on 183 testimonials
  • Loves Data prides its training on being accurate, accessible and actionable

The course runs over two days, Tuesday 24 February and Wednesday 25 February. Participants can opt to attend both days, or just one of the two.

Top 10 Tips for Using Google+ Effectively

Top 10 Tips for Using Google+ Effectively

According to QuickSprout, there are more than 500 million registered Google+ users worldwide. Of these users, 63% are male (and the remaining 37% female). Approximately 48% of Fortune 100 companies use Google+, and 40% of people that work in the marketing industry are using Google+. Clearly, Google+ is a huge, and ever-growing, social media platform. It is intrinsically linked to SEO and is currently ranked as the second largest social media network.

However, with Google announcing its decision to stop showing authorship in search results at the end of August 2014, effective use of Google+ has changed somewhat. The focus is no longer so much on increasing authorship recognition. There is still real value to be gained from Google+ though. And, by taking note of our tips for using Google+ effectively, you really can leverage this social media platform to help grow your business or your profile.

Before we go any further, it is worth noting that search users are still able to see Google+ posts from friends and pages they follow when they are relevant to their search query — both in the main results, and on the right-hand side of a Google search page. The authorship change announced at the end of August did not affect this.

1. Be Smart When it Comes to Targeting

Be honest. When you share an update on Google+, do you simply select the ‘Public’ option? Are you under the misguided preconception that by selecting ‘Public’ you will gain the largest possible audience? It’s ok to admit it. I thought that was the case when I first started using Google+.

The thing is, you don’t get a lot of traction from just posting ‘public’, unless you already have a lot of followers. But, I have discovered that there is a much more effective way to get widespread exposure for your updates. It is revolves around Circles. You need to have your Circles set up as effectively as possible, and review your Circle setting regularly based on user data. That way, you can share updates with specific Circles, and even targeted to specific individuals. Just don’t take targeted sharing too far; abuse of this Google+ feature can quickly convert you into a spammer, and see friends and followers abandon you in droves.

2. Nail Down Your Circles and Communities

The difference between Circles and Communities can be confusing. I was confused to begin with. But, once you come to understand the two, they can both be invaluable when it comes to building an audience for your brand. The difference between the two is:

  • Circles: are really more like a curated list, kind of like your own personal guest list for Google+. You get to decide who gets added, and whom the bouncer turns away at the door.
  • Communities: these are much more similar to the traditional social media groups that you are used to seeing on Facebook or LinkedIn. You might start a community, focused on a particular niche topic, and then other Google+ users can join and contribute as they see fit.

Once you have created your own Circles and Communities, you can distribute updates directly to either of them. So, you might decide to share a post with either an individual user, an industry-specific community, or a targeted Circle of potential customers as curated by you. You can even opt to send an email from you to your Circles, notifying members that you have shared an update. A warning on this feature though: you can quickly become seen as a spammer if you use it too often.

Google+ Circles

3. Format to Get Attention

Unlike some of the other social media platforms, Google+ allows you to include a range of formatting in posts. Formatting long blocks of text makes your Google+ posts easier, and much more interesting, to read. To add formatting to a post, you just need to use basic Markup language. For example:

  •  _ Italic_
  • *Bold*
  • -Strikethrough-

4. Hashtag It

If you’re a regular Twitter user, then chances are, you’re used to the whole concept of hashtags. The thing is though, Google+ uses hashtags quite differently to Twitter. Google+ hashtags are used semantically by Google to analyse, organise and recommend content. For instance, if I search for #socialmedia, I am not greeted with every update that includes the same hashtag. Rather, I am greeted with a list of similar, associated topics:

Google+ Hashtags

Using this list, I can drill down deeper, and click on any of the associated hashtags, to reveal an even more detailed list of associated topics. In this example, I clicked on the top result, #SocialMediaMarketing, and was greeted with the following list and all relevant posts:

Google+ Hashtags

Google will add a hashtags automatically to a post that has sufficient text for the search engine to glean what it is you’re writing about. As such, I suggest that you add your own relevant hashtags at the end (or even within the body) of each of your posts. That way, you can be sure that your post is being tagged with the most relevant topic.

5. Don’t be Afraid of Longer Posts

Google+ is the one social media platform where you won’t be penalised for lengthy posts. So, instead of just including a link to your blog post, with a one sentence introduction or headline, opt for something a bit longer. Explain to your followers why they should click through, why your post is worth a read. Give them some context around the issue. You might even find that your post will get more shares, and more click-throughs. Here’s a couple of recent examples from Google+ expert, Copyblogger:

Copyblogger long G+ post     Copyblogger long G+ post

 

6. Don’t Forget to Use (and Optimise) Images

You’ll always get more return on investment for Google+ posts that include images. Google+ will automatically try to pull in the image associated with any URL that you include in an update. Oftentimes, these images do not have the most effective meta tags, or they are incorrectly sized. Instead, to use Google+ as effectively as possible, try uploading your own image; just don’t forget to link your image to a specific, quality URL.

7. Remember that it’s a Social Media Platform

So, why not leverage the social aspect as much as possible? You can embed Google’s comments on your blog page. This handy little feature can be quite powerful. Users can opt to share your blog with their Google+ followers when they leave a comment. Although, keep in mind that this feature does require close monitoring and, if you happen to receive any negative feedback, you will have to be willing to take this on the chin, and respond accordingly. If you are running a WordPress or Drupal website, then you will need to research some appropriate plugins to enable commenting.

8. Post the Right Content at the Right Time

According to QuickSprout, the best time to post on Google+ is on Friday between 11am and 2pm. The second best time is also on Friday between 7pm and 10pm. So, make sure that you post at least a couple of updates at these times each week. In addition, it is a good idea to consider the type of content that you are sharing. Here are some interesting facts when it comes to content engagement on Google+:

  • Animated GIFs: receive 39% more +1s than any other content
  • Videos: receive 28% more +1s than any other content (other than GIFs)
  • Questions: receive 188% more comments than any other type of content

When it comes to posting content, it is also a good idea to be consistent. Try, as much as possible, to post regularly, to post the same amount of content at the same time, on the same days each week. This sets expectations for your followers. They know what sort of content to expect, and when.

9. Link Your Google+ Page with Your YouTube Channel

Just about every product offered by Google integrates with Google+. YouTube is one of them. So, make sure that you integrate your Google+ page with your YouTube channel. This will make it super easy for your followers to move seamlessly between the two. In addition, you will be able to access all of your YouTube analytics from your Google+ dashboard. The analytics are not as in-depth as those you can access through YouTube itself, but they can be handy when all you need is a quick snapshot.

10. Tag People

Wherever possible, tag the people responsible for creating or originally sharing the content. This technique offers great benefits. It ensures that the person involved sees your Google+ post. This will often lead to them interacting with you. They might like your update (activity which can be viewed by anyone online, adding authority to your profile if it is an industry expert). And next time you post original work, they might be more inclined to share and like that. Tagging people can be a great way to get noticed. And, it’s super simple to do. Just type in the + sign, and then the name of the person or company you wish to tag. If you’re already following them, they should appear automatically.

Google+ tag people