Google recently revamped its much-maligned social network, Google+.
The company had previously spun off the Photos feature into a separate (and superb) Google Photos App and disentangled G+ from YouTube. Now the redesigned Google+ focuses on Communities (many of which are vibrant and well-moderated) and Collections, essentially a Pinterest-like bookmarking service it added in May.
Whenever Google gives you an opportunity to tell it about your content, it’s probably a wise idea to use that opportunity so as to give your content more visibility. You never know what factors will contribute to search ranking, so when you are afforded a chance to give the search engine information about your content directly, take it.
With that in mind, I took Google Plus Collections out for a spin to see if I could find any search engine optimization benefits to using the feature. In this post, I’ll take you through the steps of creating a Google Plus Collection and point out some of the finer points along the way.
Google+ Collections Tabs
Click on the Collections link on your Google+ sidebar navigation and you’ll be taken to the Collections section, where you’ll have three tab options:
- Featured (those Collections Google+ is promoting),
- Followed (those Collections you are currently following), and
- Yours (Collections you’ve created).
In this screenshot, you’ll see Collections that our Karwoski & Courage Google+ account is currently following. Note that you will automatically be following any Collections created by people you currently follow (or “Circled”, using Google’s nomenclature).
How To Create A Google+ Collection
Click on the Yours tab to find the option to create a Google+ Collection. Click on the Create a collection button and you’ll get a popup screen to start your new Collection.
[Tweet “COOL TOOL: Google+ Collections #SocialMediaMarketing”]
Search Optimize Your Google+ Collection
Write the Title you’ll want to use for your Collection. Your title will play an important role in search discovery, so make it descriptive and use keywords people will likely use in search. You should also use supplementary keywords in your tagline because that will have a bearing on search discovery, as well.
In addition to calling our Collection “Video Marketing”, for example, we also used “Video Marketing Insights, Tips, Tactics & Tools” for our tagline. That also makes our Collection findable for Google+ searches for Video Marketing Insights, Video Marketing Tips, Video Marketing Tactics, and Video Marketing Tools.
Set Google+ Collection Visibility
You can set the visibility of your Collection to Public, restricted only to people you’ve Circled, Private so only you can see it, or you can Customize the visibility by selecting individual Circles you’ve created. Note that visibility options cannot be edited after they’ve been saved.
Customizing Your Google+ Collection’s Look & Feel
Next you can choose the accent color for your Collection, decide if you want your followers to automatically follow your Collection, and choose a cover photo.
Click the little camera icon to choose your cover photo. You can choose from a handful of images Google+ plus provides
Or click Pick a photo to upload one of your own. We, of course, want to upload our own. We chose a picture from a recent video interview shoot we conducted. Keep your image simple and obviously related to the topic of your Collection.
If you want to create a custom cover photo, the dimensions are 1080 pixels wide by 607 pixels tall. If you want to include text on your cover photo image, be aware that the top 124 pixels and the bottom 123 pixels will remain hidden until a user click on the cover, which reveals the entire image. Animated Gifs also work!
How To Add Content To Your Google+ Collection
Now that we’ve created our Collection and configured it to our liking, we’ve got an empty Collection. You’ll need to fill your Collection with stuff. In our case, Video Marketing stuff.
In the bottom right corner of your Collection is an orange circle. Click it to add an item to your Collection.
Adding Location Data To Your Google+ Collections Post
As you can see, you have the option to write a plain-text status update, add a photo, share a link and attach a location. Let’s start with sharing a location. There are any number of reasons you may want to do this.
One important reason to use the location option is to associate a particular geographic locale with a particular piece of content. You never know how Google is going to use the data it collects but when you think about its different platforms (Google Maps, the Android mobile operating system, self-driving cars), you can begin to see how they might use such associations by suggesting content based on location.
Click on the push pin icon and you’ll get a list of locations Google finds near you (this data is pulled from Google Maps), or you can search for a specific location to add.
We, of course, searched for Karwoski & Courage to attach to our post.
Disable Comments & Reshares Of Your Google+ Collections Post
Online comments can be a mess, so if you’re posting something that you expect to be controversial, you might want to think about disabling comments on the post at the outset. You can also disable re-sharing of the post but I can’t imagine why you’d want to.
Adding Links To Your Google+ Collections Post
We could upload a photo but since we’ll be mostly sharing links into our Collection, I’ll show you how to do that. Click the link icon and paste in the URL you want to share. Click OK.
Google+ will pull in the appropriate image, title, and description for that link (assuming it has been properly formatted by the publisher using the Open Graph protocol).
Formatting Your Google+ Collections Post
You could post it as is, but we want to add a short message at the top of our post.
At the top of our post, we’re going to start with one line, enclosed in asterisks, which will serve as the title of the post. Enclosing text in asterisks in a Google+ post will make it bold. Google will use the text from the top line of a Google+ post as the hyperlinked title in search results, so we’ll want to write our first line as if it were a headline.
As you can see from this screenshot, using a plus sign and immediately typing the name of a person, brand or company, will tag the page for that person, company or brand, if it exists. You can tag another page to let them know you’re talking about them or, in this case, we’re tagging ourselves to create a hyperlink to our Google+ page to make it easy for anyone who comes across the post to click and follow us.
After tagging, we added a reference to our blog and enclosed it in underscores to italicize it. Finally, we closed with the hyperlink to the article to make it easy for the viewer to know what to click and added a few hashtags for discoverability.
Click Post to make it go live and here’s what it looks like as a published post, with the formatting implemented. Note that each time you post to a Collection, that post is also displayed on your page or profile’s home page.
Google+ Collections Added To Page/Profile
Once you’ve created a Collection and published it, a new section called Interests is added to your Google+ page or profile listing your Collections. Your Collections will also, obviously, be found within the Yours tab of the Collections section itself.
This screenshot shows how your Collections posts will appear in your followers’ stream. Just like an ordinary post but with an indication that it is a member of, in our case, our Video Marketing Collection.
Editing Your Google+ Collections
You can edit your Collections by clicking on the stacked dots icon in the upper right-hand corner of your cover photo. From there you can edit or delete Collections and review your Collections’ followers.
Sharing Your Google+ Collections
Click the network icon next to the stacked dots icon in the upper right-hand corner of your cover photo to access your Collection sharing options. From there, you can share directly to Google+, Facebook, Twitter or you can copy the URL to your Collection. Here’s our Video Marketing Google+ Collection so you can see it live. Be sure to follow it and add us to your Circles.
It will likely take some time to determine what, if any, SEO benefits are to be gained by using Google+ Collections. I’ll report back on any findings.
But if you create a lot of content and cover a lot of topics, it might be an efficient way to categorize that content for specific audiences and give them an easy way to subscribe to it.
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