A Simple Google+ Guide

A Simple Google+ Guide
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Recently, I have been trying to learn everything there is to know about Google+ to improve OKJ Discoveries' search result rankings. I had actually created an account a few months ago for the blog, but quickly neglected it as I focused my attention on Facebook and Instagram.

Now that I feel more comfortable with those 2 in my everyday life (not much of a social media kinda person back then), my next big step is to integrate Google+ into the mix, something that was deemed highly important for today's internet marketing as it has an indirect correlation to search results.

With this step, I had also started to embrace the entire Google ecosystem. As a Windows Phone/Nokia fanboy, this was particularly hard for me, but I am now proud to utilise both worlds side by side, even though both of companies dont see eye-to-eye.

It is particularly hard to embrace Google+ as it is still taking a back seat to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and those close to me did not use Google+, or tried it and neglected it soon after, much like myself. But the importance of a Google+ presence was too big for me to ignore, so I went on my own, and now, after about a week, I must say I am glad to have made that decision.

Here I will talk about the 3 biggest ways Google+ has empowered me and OKJ Discoveries. But before I get started with the guide, it must be said that Google+ IS NOT the same as Facebook. Sure, both of them are social media, and they have many things in common, but both are fundamentally and functionally different, and thinking that they are the same will only leave you feeling lost when you use Google+ for the first time.

Now open your mind as I bring you into the know.

1. Google+ Improves Your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)


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Ever since Google's "Search Plus Your World" initiative in 2012, the Search Engine Optimisation landscape had changed dramatically. Content from Google+ are favoured and integrated into your search results as long as you have signed in to a Google account. And in this day and age, hardly anyone doesn't have a Google account. After all, Google owns Youtube, Android, Gmail, and much more. A clear evidence of Google+'s relevance can be seen below.

With a Google+ profile, one will be able to link their written articles to it to validate their authorship. This will place your Google+ profile with your written articles, much like the picture above. It elevates your internet presence and promotes sharing within Google+, which in turn will increase your number of +1s. This is extremely powerful, much more than Facebook likes, because +1s have an indirect impact on search results. Moz has got a very detailed article on the +1 effect and it correlation  to higher search rankings.

The process goes something like this: Lets say you +1 this post (A Simple Google+ Guide), you have given your stamp of approval on the blog post and in turn, will recommend it to those in your connection. When those within your circle and connection search for "Google+ Guide" or something related to that, this blog post now has a greater chance of appearing higher in the search rankings than when you didn't +1 this post. It is not a guaranteed effect, but the influence of +1 is definitely there.

I also conducted an experiment to see this influence in action. I created an OKJ Discoveries Google+ page and linked all of the current articles to that page. While no one +1'd it or commented, the views on my blog deriving from search results increased tremendously, at least double from what I recall. If more views is something you want, then Google+ is something that should be on your checklist of must-have.

2. Google+ has a Far Superior Photo Management System


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With attention spans shrinking to that of a goldfish, visuals are more important now than ever before. The general masses are already used to "instant" information. Most will probably stop immediately after getting what they were looking, unless there is something that pulls them in. This is where visuals take a center stage. Pictures, videos, and even memes are now needed to maintain the attention of the general masses because simply put, it is less boring.

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So this is another aspect in which Google+ can empower you and your blog. Google+ has a far superior photo management system compared to other popular websites. During a trip to the National Library, where I borrowed a book called "Google+ for Photographers by Colby Brown. It is a great insight on what Google+ is all about, how and why it should be utilised for business (specifically for photographers), and is also graced by many established photographers who have thrived in the environment cultivated by Google+, each having millions of followers.

The suggestions and advice found in the book can be applied to anyone looking to use Google+ to its full potential, particularly if you are using it for your own blog, just like me with OKJ Discoveries, so i definitely recommended checking this book out.

Anyways back to point, the book has highlighted to me the advanced photo management system, making it a valuable tool for anyone who thrives on the visuals. Just look at how different both Facebook and Google+ display your pictures.

Facebook decided to box every single photo uniformly. While it should work well in theory, the result is a neat organisation, but at the cost of limiting the picture beauty while looking at the whole album.
Facebook decided to box every single photo uniformly. While it should work well in theory, the result is a neat organisation, but at the cost of limiting the picture beauty while looking at the whole album.
Google+ went with a responsive interface, something that is now of the standard as we enter an era with people having more than one internet enabled device. Google+ lets the photos orientation and size to dictate the arrangement, thus avoiding the compromise of quality while still establishing order
Google+ went with a responsive interface, something that is now of the standard as we enter an era with people having more than one internet enabled device. Google+ lets the photos orientation and size to dictate the arrangement, thus avoiding the compromise of quality while still establishing order

Apart from that, here is a list of comparisons between the features of Google+ and Facebook

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Google+ has the social capabilities of Facebook while having the imaging capabilities of sites like Flickr, 500px, and other image-centric websites. If your blog depends heavily on visuals, you got to use Google+, or else you would be missing out.

I am not saying to chose one of the other. Especially since Facebook comes with its own perks. In Singapore more people use Facebook than Google+, and so it is definitely not wise to neglect either of them.But in the future that may change, for those geeks out there who knows the existance of Google Glasses, check out this article about the potentially market changing feature of having all photos taken from Google Glasses automatically backed up and shared on Google+ by Jim Edwards from Business Insiders.

3. Google+ Still has a Lot of Potential for Growth


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Google has really come a long way in streamlining its first-party services, and now one Google account is all you need to access a plethora of services. Couple that with Google's experience and expertise in the mobile space, such as the continuous development and improvement of the Android system, you can expect the benefits of using Google's services will transition well into your phone or tablet, especially if you are using an android-powered device (which is very likely considering the Google's Android system takes more than half of the entire smartphone market share)

Don't be mistaken, a "Log-In With Facebook" is not the same as logging in with a Google account to Google's own proprietary services. Much like how the next-gen Google Glasses will automatically back up and share photos taken using it on Google+, Google-branded services are now interconnected, as is expected to become more intertwine and deliver more benefits to those who choose to embrace the Google line of services. While Apple and Microsoft have consistently improved their specific one-branded ecosystem, one thing both companies do not have is a social media arm, which can have huge implications as time goes on.

As per the first point, the existence of Google+ has redefined the Search Engine Optimisation landscape - though no doubt due to the influence Google has with the search industry. But who is to say that such muscle would not be used again to focus Google+ into the social media network. With Google's dominance over the mobile devices market with its android platform, Google+ still has a lot of potential for growth, and with its features slowly become more powerful and well designed, early adopters of Google+ will definitely be rewarded - and what's the harm of not being an early adopter?

Conclusion


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I will continue to use both Facebook and Google+, in fact as many networks as I can handle to reach to the maximum number of audience possible. Currently Google+ still does not have what it takes to take down Facebook, the current king of social media, but it is a very dynamic industry, one that is no unfamiliar to titans falling from grace. Facebook is one heck of a titan, but Google+ is not just a titan, it is an arm of an even bigger titan. The increase in users and relevance of Google+ isn't a mere prediction - To me, it's simply a matter of time.