Increase Your Google+ Followers

Since Google’s decision to shut down their Authorship program last year, many businesses and experts are assuming that Google+ as a social platform is now irrelevant. In fact, I’ve written several articles giving my take on its decline:
  • Is Google+ Really Walking Dead?
  • Why Google+ Is Dying (and Nearly Dead)
  • What the Death of Google+ Means for SEO
While Google+ as we know it is dying, it’s going to live on in different ways. There are still going to be benefits to using it for SEO purposes, such as the perpetuation of Author Rank (not to be confused with Google Authorship, which is dead) and Google My Business (formerly known as Google+ Local), which is still strongly supported by Google for local SEO purposes. As I wrote in one piece, “While Google+ probably won’t become the next Facebook, it’s going to continue to be an influence in search engine optimization in the future, and it’s going to continue to deliver value to Google in the form of advertising intelligence.”
As a result, I conclude each piece with my advice to continue using it for SEO and marketing purposes. According to recent research by ComScore, Google+ still has a significant audience penetration in the US. With a 38% reach of the digital population - compared to Twitter’s 36% - Google+ is still a major player, and continues to hold value for business owners.

One of the challenges business owners face, however, is understanding how to consistently grow their audience. This article will help by providing 50 ways you can grow your Google+ followers and increase engagement on the platform.
1. Add the +1 button to all your blog posts. Make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to share your content.
 2. Use strong calls to action in your posts. Ask people to follow you or +1 your post, and let them know what’s in it for them (e.g., “Follow us to receive exclusive discounts”.)
 3. Post regularly, but don’t overdo it. Buffer suggests somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 posts per week.
4. Follow back your followers. It feels good to see that you have 10,000 followers and that you only follow 10 people. However, this also makes you look like a complete snob. Regularly look through your new followers and follow back the ones who spark your interest.
5. Take part in Google+ communities. Join public groups related to topics you’re interested in. Actively participate in discussions to build relationships with like-minded users.

6. Add engaging and unique content. If you’re just starting out, you need to give people a reason to follow you. Even if you only have a handful of followers, posting interesting and informative content is a must.
7. Create and use branded hashtags. As people share your posts, they’re likely to include your hashtags which will lead to increased exposure and potentially more followers.
8. Send Google+ invitations to your email contacts.
9. Comment on other people’s posts. This is an obvious tip, but one that gets neglected far too often. Don’t just post your own stuff; make sure you’re regularly commenting, +1’ing and sharing other people’s content as well.
10. Include a link to your Google+ page in your email signature. Be sure to include a blurb about the benefits people will receive from following you.
11. Use your profile to reinforce your branding. When people look at your profile, you want them to see a snapshot of your business and what you stand for. Use a high-quality headshot, and don’t forget to include a link back to your site. If you’re a local business, be sure to include your full address; this way Google will automatically include a map on your About page.

12. Use circles to segment your followers. Using circles allows you to provide the most targeted and relevant content possible - at least to those who follow you back.
13. Choose large, eye-catching images to include with your posts.  The optimal size for your post images is 497 x 373 pixels.
14. Mention influences in your posts. Find and follow key figures in your industry and mention them where appropriate. I covered this topic in detail in my post, How To Get Industry Influences To Boost Your Social Media Reach.
15. Include a link to your Google+ profile everywhere: on your website, Facebook and Twitter profile, marketing materials…everywhere.
16. Ensure you’ve uploaded a profile photo. Sounds obvious, I know. But no one is going to follow a faceless profile! Use a professional headshot if possible, and make sure it’s a close-up (that circle is so small in posts, and you want people to be able to identify and recognize you).
17. Mention your Google+ page or account on your blog. Don’t be afraid to casually mention and link to your Google+ account in your blog posts where relevant (e.g., “I was just talking about this on my Google+ page the other day…”)
18. Ask your followers to +1 your content. There’s a lot of research that shows that asking your social media followers to share your posts actually works.
19. Host your own Hangouts on Air. Promote your Hangout on Google+ as well as on your website and other social media profiles. Remember that even those who aren’t on Google+ can watch!
20. Cross-promote your page and personal profile. You likely already know that Google+ gives you the option of having a personal profile and/or a business page. Leverage all your followers, and promote your best content to increase your audience for both your page and personal profile.
21. Test out +Post Ads. These ads allow you to take your public content and get it shared across the approximately 2 million sites in the Google Display Network. Those who see the post can interact with it from whatever site they’re on, including liking, sharing and even circling you.
22. Search for hashtags relevant to your business. Follow and engage with individuals who share your interests and they are likely to follow you back.
23. Create and share comprehensive circles. Create circles of users in your niche (e.g., “Parenting bloggers”), add yourself to the list, and then share it publically with your followers.
24. Post often. The more you post, the more chances you have of getting your content seen. The more visibility your content gets, the more followers you’ll naturally accumulate.
25. Use holiday-specific hashtags. If you’re having a holiday promotion or just have holiday-related content, make it easy for people to find by using a relevant hashtag (e.g., #thanksgiving)

26. Embed a Google+ badge on your website or blog. A badge shows your profile photo, cover photo and your ‘About’ info, along with an all-important follow button.
27. Keep your headlines to 60 characters or less so all your text stays on one line. This may make your headline stand out and entice more clicks.
28. Post between 9-11 am on weekdays. This info-graphic suggests this is the optimal time for getting engagement.
29. Integrate YouTube with Google+. When people comment on your YouTube video while on Google+, their comments show up on YouTube. This is great for increasing the social credibility of your videos and may attract people to your .
30. Share your Google+ posts on your website or blog. Your site visitors can then comment or +1 your posts without ever leaving your site! Here’s how to use embedded posts.
31. Mention others in your posts. They will receive a notification and are more likely to comment or even share your post.
32. Add a call to action at the end of your blog posts (e.g. “Don’t forget to follow me on Google+”).
33. Make your cover photo count. Make sure it shows off your skills or personality as this may be the first (or last) time a person interacts with you. The optimal size for your cover photo is 1080 x 608 pixels.
34. Customize your hover card. You may have noticed that when you hover over someone’s name in a post, a small box with the person’s photo and ‘About’ info pops up on the screen. Here’s a great primer on how to customize your hover card to attract new followers.

35. Add interest to your posts by using italics (use underscores on either side of your text) and bold (use an asterix on either side) to underline key points and to make your posts pop.
36. Use relevant and popular hashtags in your posts. Use Google+’s Explore feature to find trending hashtags in your industry, or simply choose from the ones Google automatically suggests when you compose your posts.
37. Be genuine when leaving comments. People can spot a ‘fly by’ comment a mile away (e.g., “Great post!”). Leave thoughtful comments that show you’ve actually engaged with the content of the post or link.
38. Use Circloscope to automate the process of finding relevant users to follow.
39. Build relationships with community moderators. Most Google+ communities won’t allow you to directly share your content with their members. However, reaching out to community admins may be a great first step in forming partnerships that lead to greater visibility for your content and brand.
40. Decide who you want to follow you…then go out and actively pursue them. It’s far better to have 100 active and engaged followers than 1,000 followers who never interact with you. Make a point of deciding who your ideal follower is, then find them, follow them, and engage with them.
41. Make sure your posts are set to public. If you want your posts to potentially reach a broader audience, make sure you share them publically for easier sharing.
42. Pin your best post to the top of your profile. When people view your profile, you want them to see your highest-quality content. This may help convince them that you’re worth following!
43. Be generous with your likes and comments. I’m not suggesting being disingenuous and liking everything that comes across your feed. However, the more you engage with other people’s content, the more they get to know and appreciate you.
44. Make sure your page is branded consistently. If your page looks haphazard and thrown-together, people will be leery of following you. Make sure your branding (colors, design, tone, etc.) is consistent with that of your website and other social media profiles.
45. Create your own Google+ community as a way to share knowledge and become known as an expert in your industry.
47. Allow your blog visitors to leave comments using their Google+ profile. If you have a WordPress site, you can do this via the Comments Evolved for WordPress plugin.
48. If you’re holding a webinar or presentation using Google Hangouts, embed a Google+ Hangout button right on your site.
49. Be a helper. Become known as someone who seeks to help others by answering questions, offering advice and providing useful info. These are the types of people others will want to follow.

50. Focus on sharing content produced by other ‘small fish’. Everyone shares content from the big guys, but many lesser-known users have important things to say. Plus, these are the users who are most likely to follow you back and share your content.
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