5googleLast year Google introduced “Search Plus Your World” (S+YW) and because of Google+ there now was a whole new aspect of personalization: your Google network.

If you are logged into Google+, network based personalization will influence your search results by evaluating your interests and those of your contacts, and thus bring you highly relevant search results. This shows that a Google+ account brings a lot more value than one would think at first sight.

On his blog at maximizesocialbusiness.com, Mark Traphagen gives some powerful advice on building an influential Google+ network, in two separate posts.

According to Mark it is not just your network which influences your search results, but also „the larger and more influential your Google network is, the more search results you affect“. He goes so far to say that a well-developed Google+ network can replace almost all other SEO strategies! Now this is food for thought isn‘t it? Here‘s an overview and summary of how to develop the right strategy, according to Mark Traphagen:

1. Be choosy whom you circle. You need to be aware that Google knows you by the company you keep. Google is looking to measure individual authority not only by what the individual does and produces, but by those with whom he or she interacts the most. Cultivate relationships with the influencers in your topics.

2. Make it clear what you are about. Make it easy for people to have the right associations about you or your brand, by carefully selecting what you put in your profile and the content you produce and share.  There’s even strong speculation that Google pays attention to the names of circles you’re added to. Just don’t earn your way into a lot of people’s “spammer” circles.

3. Join active, relevant communities. Communities are the new hot spot on Google+ for becoming a useful authority to people who might never have discovered you before. Not only can you gain more valuable followers by being active in Communities, just as with Circles, there is speculation grounded in some interesting statements from Google staffers that Google may use the topics of Communities in which you are active and influential to affect your influence on personalized search.

4. Connect with Google authorship. Make sure everywhere you post original content online has a link back to your Google+ profile, and link to those places from the “Contributor To” section of your Google+ profile. That way Google can begin to assess your level of topical authority based on how people interact with your content across the web. This undoubtedly contributes to the signals Google uses to decide whom you should influence and for what.

5. Use circles to track influentials. Since Google+ introduced Communities it is no longer necessary to circle people by topics. Use Circles to line up with the positions on the Google+ Circle slider, which lets you fine tune the default view on your home page. Choose your top circles and arrange the people and pages you follow into one of those four circles, according to how important they are to you and put those people in either the Notifications or All Posts circle. That way you’ll be more likely to see any of their content to which you can add a meaningful comment. And they’ll keep seeing your name connected with your expertise and helpfulness. After a while they are likely to circle you back, and even start engaging with your content and recommending you to others.

6. Use plus mentioning. One of Google+’s more useful and powerful features is the ability to plus mention someone in a post in a comment by typing a + sign and then immediately (without a space) typing the person’s name. Once posted, the plus mention becomes a link to that person’s profile, but also generates a notification to the person mentioned with a link to the post. Here’s how to use that in strategic network building:

  • When you share someone’s post or outside content to Google+, include a plus mention of the person in your introduction to the post so they will know you liked and shared their content. It also gives that person the ability to follow the post and interact with you and your audience about their content. By welcoming an influential person into my thread, my followers subconsciously associate my authority with hers.
  • Use plus mentioning to cc: topic authorities into comment threads where their opinion might be valued. Obviously, use this sparingly and carefully. You don’t want to become annoying!
  • Also cc: topical experts when you post about a topic of interest to them. Again, use this sparingly to be most effective without appearing spammy or like a stalker.
  • 7. Build and/or join targeted communities. Google+ Communities are one of the hottest places to find great engagement and build influence.

  • If more than one community shows up in your searches for Communities related to your fields of expertise, don’t just look at which are the largest and/or most active. Also find out if any of the other G+ users you’ve identified as influencers in the topic are active there, that’s another opportunity to get on their radar and build a relationship with them.
  • If you decide to start your own Community, first talk with some of the influentials on that topic with whom you’ve already built some reputation to see if they might join you in kickstarting the Community. Having a few influentials endorsing it and inviting their followers to it can be huge. Maybe even make them moderators so their face shows in the right panel when people browse the Community.
8. Use shared circles. A user can click any circle in her circle view and then click an icon in the circle to create a special Shared Circle post. Anyone viewing the post can instantly add the circle to his circles. Here are some tips and cautions about using Shared Circles for influence building:
  • Keep your Shared Circles small and topically focused. The larger the circle is the less likely people are to add it.
  • Carefully curate the members of your Shared Circles. Make sure everyone in them really deserves to be there. You’re putting your recommendation on the line by sharing them in this way. You want your followers to be confident that your recommendations are solid.
  • Don’t forget to +mention the people you’ve included in the Shared Circle. In most cases they’ll appreciate being included, and will probably share it with their following.
  • If (and only if!) you feel qualified to be included in the circle, then check the box at the bottom of the share post. This can be a powerful way to increase your following, but if you don’t really belong in the circle, people will sniff out that you are doing this as a spam technique and will distrust your future shares, or even un-circle you.
  • Caution: Unfortunately low-value Shared Circles have been proliferating as a run-up-my-follower-numbers spam tactic. In a typical scenario, the spammer will ask people to recommend something vague like “great people on Google+” and say they can even recommend themselves. Then the spammer will put all those people in a Shared Circle, include himself (of course), and then send it out with a notification to all the hundreds of members. This can run up following numbers quickly, but adds little value to anyone’s streams. Because of this practice, you need to be very sure that you only use Shared Circles in ways that would truly enhance the streams of your followers if they added them. And you should probably use this feature sparingly so as not to appear spammy.

9. Brand pages. While the strategies above are designed for an individual profile, there is no reason they can’t be put to use for a Google+ brand page as well. Brand pages can now do most things that personal profiles can do. However, as a brand, you need to be aware that people will naturally be more on guard when an impersonal logo and brand name posts in their threads or communities. So be extra-personable! Make sure you are adding real value wherever you post or comment. Don’t just leave “great post!” comments or you will be viewed as a spammer.

In Mark‘s opinion, Google+ is oneof the most powerful networking and influence tool ever invented. And as as with any such plan for success, the only real requirement for it to work is that you work it. In his two blog posts, Mark offers a lot more detail, so if this has made you curious, please visit: http://maximizesocialbusiness.com/google-plus-strategy-networking-8209/

By Anjum Siddiqi