Google Plus offers authors, personal brands and content creators an incredible opportunity to boost their visibility across Google’s entire network of websites. By optimizing your profile, you will put yourself in a better position to be discovered by your target audience, even if they are not using Google+ for social networking.
Why is this? Because Google Plus posts are indexed in search, as is your profile. Other social networks let people within that same network find you…on Google+, the entire Internet can find you! Think about how that could open up you and your brand to new opportunities.
“How to Optimize your Google+ Profile”
If you do a search for this phrase you will undoubtedly come across articles that tell you to use keywords and links in your About section. This post is no different. Utilize your About section (and your hovercard) to tell the story about who you are, and why people should start following you.
Link to your various websites and social profiles, set up Authorship for the blogs to which you contribute, and of course, add a professional cover photo and profile picture.
But let’s go a little further…did you know you can optimize your cover photo too? Check out this excellent deck compiled by +Michael Bennett of my tips for Google+ cover photo design and SEO for your Google+ cover photo.
Now let’s go one step further still. Let’s say you do all the basic optimization above, and even optimize your cover photo; are people going to actually find you? Chances are, the answer is no. They aren’t going to find you, they are going to find your content…and by doing so, they will find you.
Optimizing your Google+ Footprint for Semantic Search
So, to optimize your Google+ Profile also means optimizing the content you put on Google+. If you look at your profile as a complete product, all your Photos (the ones you share), the About tab and your Posts stream come together into an entity that stands for something. That something is you on Google+, and you want to stand for certain keywords or topics so Google considers you an authority on those topics.
This is the first step toward utilizing Semantic Search techniques, which author and semantic search expert, David Amerland, describes as essentially being able to extract the meaning of a search and deliver the best answer, not a list of choices. This is heavily paraphrased, but in this video, An Introduction to Semantic Search, you can get a better sense of what David is talking about. I’ll expand on the video below…
According to Amerland, semantic search is as different from Boolean search as apples are from oranges. The transition to a more accurate semantic search marks a transition on the web that results in more direct answers to queries right on the search page, instead of having to go through each link.
Amerland states that when it comes to SEO, things like keywords, link building and content writing on a website, are now secondary to how a website is perceived. Content sharing through social networks, and the trustworthiness of the people sharing, creates a social signal that Google uses to understand what the website does, how good it is and whether it should be ranked in its search queries.
Is this starting to get a little too complex? Look at it this way: everything you do on Google+ tells Google about who you are, so it can match you with people looking for things you know a lot about.
This activity goes beyond Google+ the social site, and into its other properties such as YouTube, Gmail, the Google Play store, and others. In the end, if you care about marketing, you will want to rank highly for phrases on which you are an authority, right? Being cognizant about how you publish content on Google properties will help strengthen that correlation with those phrases, to the point where Google will consider you an expert and push your content higher in search results for those topics.
There’s more to it than this, which is why I’d recommend picking up David’s book, Google Semantic Search (non-affiliate link) if you’re serious about optimization and semantic search. For the purposes of this article, though, just take this away with you: weave a common thread through your posts, your profile, and your activities on Google+, and you will be optimizing your profile for the long-term.
**UPDATE:** I’ve read and reviewed Amerland’s book, and offered a take on what businesses can do to prepare themselves for semantic search.