Future of Content

July 14th, 2011

How Google+ Fits Into a Content Strategy

Google+,┬áthe search supergiant’s blatant Facebook competitor, has already racked up an estimated 10 million users in its first week as a limited-membership service.

Content providers should definitely work Google+ into their content strategy, but be aware that Google+ is both like Facebook, and different from it, in important ways.

Keep the Same Format as Facebook for Links

A content link posted to Google+ looks almost exactly like the same link shared on Facebook. There’s a title, a thumbnail image scraped from the site (Google doesn’t let you choose as Facebook does, but it usually gets the right one), a short text excerpt also scraped from the top of the page, and a space for the person doing the sharing to enter a short text comment above the post. Whatever you’re doing to share content on Facebook, you can do in parallel on Google+.

Add Google’s +1 Button to Your Site

If you haven’t yet, add Google’s version of Facebook’s Like button — the +1 button — alongside the Facebook and Twitter buttons you probably already display on each post on your site.┬áThis lets Google+ users one-click a recommendation to their friends. It also affects Google’s ranking of content in search results, although the company has been coy about exactly how that works.

No Fan Pages, No Ads, No Apps — Yet

For now, Google+ only allows individual people to create profiles. You can’t create a page for your blog or for a “celebrity” blogger (I know, it’s a relative term.) There are no ads on the system, nor can you publish an app that tries to send your content viral. So for now, you’ll have to rely on individual writers or editors — or an intern — sharing your content links on their own Google+ pages.

Google+ URLs Work Outside the Network

Here’s a reason to post your content to Google+ now: Unlike Facebook, a public post to Google+ has an externally visible URL at plus.google.com that non-members can click to read. The post will also be indexed by Google’s search engine, which a Facebook post won’t be.

But don’t expect much Google traffic yet. The company isn’t pushing up Google+ posts in its search results. Googling most popular authors, such as Anthony De Rosa, doesn’t return their Google+ posts anywhere near the top of Google’s results. That’s fair, because those posts have not yet become widely linked from already high-ranking Web pages.

Also, Google+ entries are titled “Post by Anthony de Rosa,” which means they won’t rank well for a search on your linked content page’s title or text. But they do add to your linked content’s ranking, since each post is a link from the highly-ranked plus.google.com domain. Google seems to be resisting the urge to give themselves a boost in the rankings.

Take it Slow

Some bloggers, such as Digg founder Kevin Rose, have already redirected their blogs to their Google+ accounts. That’s fine for a personal site, but a publisher should stick with their existing site, which has an established network of inbound links and bookmarks.

For now, add the +1 button, and get contributors to share their posts on Google+. With a minimal amount of work, it will put your content in front of a fast-growing audience of mostly heavy Internet users.

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