A Quick Guide & Thoughts On Google Plus (Google+)

Kevin Chow -

How To Use Google+ --- A Quick Guide & Thoughts On Google Plus

Google+ has arrived and pretty much every SEO I know are already on it. Yesterday was probably a complete waste of a day for most SEOs as pretty much everyone was busy playing with Google+. I was no exception. In the words of Matt Cutts: “It’s like crack, but in a good way”.

So I’ve spent some time going through the current key features to give you a “crash course” in Google+:

Circles

This is the major functionality that although initially looks just like Facebook friends, differ in one important area; categorization! Basically, circles is a way of categorizing your Google+ contacts into groups. For example below I’ve added circles such as “SEO Peeps” which has every SEO contact I have added, but then I have also added a separate circle for “UK SEO's” to further categories. In addition I have separate circles for my “Friends” (you know those people you see in person) and “Family”. To me this is a very good way of social networking as I have a lot of digital content (whether it’s blog posts, videos or even images) that I want to share with one group but not necessarily with another. Most importantly the categorization in Google+ is EASY to do, you can add as many circles as you like and you can have one person in several circles.

Photos

Functionality of uploading photos works pretty much the same way as Facebook, but I have a sneaky feeling it will expand and have added functionality in no time at all. I bet you photos in Google+ will rank VERY highly in Google Image search before you know it.

When you upload photos you get asked to create a new album or add to an existing album. After you have uploaded the photos you can go into each photo and “add tag” just like Facebook. Any pictures you have been tagged in will then also appear on your profile and as “pictures of you” within the photo section (again just like Facebook). The only thing I’m missing from a “tagging level” is the opportunity to do the tagging on upload level so I don’t need to go into each image. There are also some nice additional functionality at this level such as: edit the picture, text and also adding comments which comes up at the right of the picture as a speech bubble.

The one thing the photo section has that Facebook don’t have (as far as I know) is the ability to share with specific circles only (see below). This is a nice function as there are some photos you might only want your friends to see and some that are solely work related.

Hangouts

So what is the “hangout” all about? It’s basically a way of hanging out with loads of people at the same time using video chat. You can add one or even several of your circles to your “hang out”.

When you have invited people to join your “hang out” a post will appear in their stream. If there are less than 25 people in a hang out they will also get a notification that they are invited to a hangout. And as we discovered if I start a hangout but a hangout is already going on I get notified and can join the current one instead. The most interesting thing about a hangout though is that it’s not “closed”, since anyone in the hangout can invite anyone else, people you don’t know may know and can join the hang out.

Instant Photo Upload from Mobile

Now this is pretty cool, it automatically puts all photos you take on your phone to a private album on your Google+, you can then decide whether you want to share them with any circles. BUT it can only be done if you have an Android phone, boo!

Sparks

This is basically a personalized content feed into your stream, you tell “Sparks” what you are “in to” and they will send you stuff (videos, content etc) that’s relevant to you.

Huddle

Huddle is basically a “group chat”, allows you to chat with several people at once over your mobile. Basically text messaging on steroids.

Is Google+ just another Facebook?

I have already seen loads of people blogging and tweeting about Google Plus saying that it’s just like Facebook, heck someone has already done a blog post about how to make it look EXACTLY like facebook (which is just weird). But the BIG difference between Facebook and Google+ is that you can categorize your sharing. For me this is a BIG plus (ha ha get it? Plus), as I have a lot of things that I want to share with my SEO friends and colleagues but that I don’t necessarily want to share with my family and friends . This is a simple, yet genius difference between the two. Google+ profile and posts are also public, the profiles can be seen by everyone, and each “post” has its own unique URL making Google+ a contender with Twitter for indexable shared content. Lastly and maybe most importantly to us SEO and Social Media specialists, this initiative from Google proves they are taking social seriously. Merging Google properties into Google+ and integrating it with the SERPs WILL have an impact. Let’s just hope it’s not too easy to game from a spam point of view . All in all, my initial thoughts are that this could definitely work, Google’s big challenge will be tidying up the bugs and usability kinks fast enough for the actual launch. And that launch need to be pretty sharpish, it would be such a shame to lose out on the “buzz” (pardon the pun) that all the early adopter (aka geeks) are making. Lastly I think it will be of utmost importance to get Apps (for iPhone and Blackberry) launched ASAP, it would be such a mistake of Google if they launched it without mobile apps.

Lastly here are some Google+ shortcuts that might be handy:

J = scroll down

K= scroll up

Enter = Start commenting

@Username = links to the user so that they can see it in their profile/stream

“text” = makes the text inside the brackets bold

_text_ = makes the text italics

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