Use Google+ to Build Your Brand’s Reputation

In Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, the latest book from Entrepreneur Press introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. This edited excerpt focuses on leveraging the human aspect of Google+ to build your reputation and subject matter authority online.

Google+ is structured in a way that offers two key benefits to marketers and businesses: It allows them to easily build relationships with one another, and it impacts their web presence by passing social signals.

Building relationships, from a mechanical standpoint, is quite easy on Google+. The open nature of the platform allows users to comment on public posts, whether or not they have that user in their circles. The open, asynchronous format is similar to Twitter: I can talk to you without having to follow you, compared to other networks which require users to establish a connection first before being able to interact with each other.

So a user can go onto Google+, type in a keyword, hashtag, or the URL of a web page they like, and find existing discussions about those very topics into which they can inject themselves and meet others who share that same interest. If the user is happy with the discussion, she can add the participants (the user who shared the post, as well as the commenters) to her circles and participate on more of their posts.

When it comes to seeking out the most influential users on a particular topic, the best technique is to look for the most active conversations and the ones with the highest number of shares. Typically, interacting on that user’s posts can expose you to a greater audience than the user who never gets any comments.

Communities are also a good place to build relationships. Community owners and moderators are typically active and worth connecting with. The fact that most communities are topic-oriented means you will have members with common interests, which is great for prospecting and networking. Commenting on community posts will earn you visits from community members to your profile, where they will learn more about you and potentially add you to their circles. Hangouts on Air is another useful Google+ tool for building a reputation. It enables live broadcasts that save to a user’s YouTube channel and can be combined with an event to create a rich, immersive, live experience to connect face to face with people and brands

How do these relationships play into social signals back to our website? Each Google+ profile has influence in its own right, and for certain keywords. Knowing this, be cognizant of how and what you share on Google+ to help train it about your areas of expertise. Anyway, should you build a relationship with a user who has an established reputation on a certain subject, their share of your content will count as a stronger recommendation than someone who has no authority on the subject matter (in Google’s eyes).

The idea holds water in real life, as Google is trying with Google+ to emulate the real-life trust and connections we build with each other. If I wrote an article about a movie theater experience for my blog, and a professional movie blogger caught wind of it and shared it, that’s quite an endorsement, isn’t it? These signals pass to our Google+ posts, our profiles, and our web pages, and Google has begun to weigh the social interactions surrounding a piece of content (or entity) as a measure of reputation and trust. The types of interactions are considered as well, meaning a “like” or +1 will not factor as heavily because of the low level of effort surrounding the action; a comment, share, or a completely separate link to my article, on the other hand, require increasing levels of effort and thus weighed more heavily.

This is why buying social signals is not a viable strategy anymore. The return on investment for low-value signals—or even higher value signals from users with no reputation—is unacceptable. Without a high level of authoritative discussion surrounding your content, you will have a hard time ranking in search and building a reputation as an authority in your field. This authoritative discussion and reputation can only be earned naturally.