It seems that every few months, Facebook further refines its algorithms to favor paid advertisements. And try as we might to maintain the level of engagement our fan pages once received, it is next to impossible. Without a doubt, Google+ is better than Facebook for my blog.
And if you’ll indulge me, I’ll tell you why and share a few of my best practices.
A Brief History of Google+
Originally to be called Google Circles, Google+ launched in 2011 as a direct attempt to compete with Facebook. Bing had introduced the ability for users to see what pages theirs friends had liked on Facebook, so Google came up with a similar concept – the +1. In its first two years, Google+ accumulated more than 500 million users.
Unfortunately, Google+ was not well received by all internet users. Many found it be a less relevant version of Facebook. Others found that it brought nothing innovative to the social media world. In many ways, Google+ just hasn’t been able to garner the same level of respect as its social networking peers, such as Facebook.
But that’s okay. Google+ has represented 37.9 percent of social traffic to my blog over the past 7 days compared to Facebook at just 18.6 percent:
And that sits just fine with me.
Google+ Is Better Than Facebook for My Blog
When I say that Google+ is better than Facebook for my blog, I am speaking in terms of raw traffic numbers.
Here are a couple of recent examples of the social sharing tallies on blog posts I have published:
If done correctly, Google+ can deliver multitudes of targeted traffic. And best of all, I find that the engagement I get with other users on Google+ exceeds Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined.
What’s Awesome About Google+
Each time Facebook overhauls the look of its native platform, it seems that we get less and less space in our news feeds to enjoy… well, our news feeds.
Looking at my news feed on Facebook right now, I see a clutter of links I never use on the left. To the right, I see trending topics of no interest to me and a variety of paid advertisements. Even further to the right, I see an obsolete chat function that nobody seems to use, plus an assortment of games I can play like Candy Crush and Scrabble.
Contrast this with Google+. In my home feed, I see three columns of posts from users in my circles listed in reverse chronological order. When I scroll farther down, I see more of the same, with the occasional suggestion of three new people or pages I might like.
And if I really need to access settings, events, or the like, I can allow my cursor to hover in the top left to populate an otherwise invisible menu bar.
Are you getting the picture without actually seeing a picture?
Google+ is a lot like what Facebook used to be before the push for advertising revenues took over. It provides a clean, simple way to browse all the content posted from my circles, without ever attempting to tell me what I should consider a ‘Top Story’.
And if you need a couple more benefits, consider:
Google+ Does Hashtags Right!
Not only does Google+ autocomplete hashtags in my posts, it will assign relevant hashtags based on popular words or phrases I have used. How cool is that! Can Facebook do that? No. No, it can’t.
Google+ Lets Me Format My Posts!
With a matching pair of asterisks, I can bold the titles of my posts. In fact, there is a whole arrangement of formatting options on Google+.
I think I have done a fairly good job of illustrating why I feel that Google+ is better than Facebook. But the real question is, what am I doing on that platform to generate blog traffic?
Let’s review a few of the simple, daily things I do to build my following and drive traffic.
Add People to Your Circles
As a best practice, I like to add 5 to 10 new users to my circles daily. It does not really matter which circle you add them to. By default, Google+ does not consider the people you are only following to be a part of your circles. But you can easily change that in the settings:
That’s what I did. I find it easier to start following most users than classify each person individually.
You will find that users tend to add you back to their own circles, much like on other platforms.
I also tend to find that users on Google+ stay a little truer to brand than they do on Facebook. For this reason, I attempt to target other bloggers and internet marketers to add to my circles. This way, my home feed is constantly full of great content that may give me ideas for my next blog post, or that I can reshare to my circles.
Spend a few minutes each day going through your home feed and interacting with content from other users. I recommend adding a +1 or a comment to 15-20 posts per day.
Structure Your Posts To Grab Attention
Even if you do not have your own original blog content to share, I recommend posting at least 3-4 times daily on Google+. Treat everything you post as if it’s the most important message of the day.
The top line of text in your post is the most valuable real estate. You can include up to 60 characters before it breaks to a new line. It’s best to treat this line as a title and bold it. Simply enter this:
*Super Awesome Attention-Grabbing Title*
To get this:
Super Awesome Attention-Grabbing Title
Next, include a few lines of text indicating what the reader can expect from your article.
Be sure the link you are sharing in the post has a featured image specified to populate the thumbnail.
And finally, include as many relevant hashtags as possible.
When you are all finished, you should have a post that looks something like this:
Send Email to Your Circles?
There seems to be a lot of confusion online with respect to how circles work when posting new content.
To be clear, for the purpose of generating blog traffic, Public is the only circle you need to have selected; however, you are welcome to leave Your circles and Extended circles selected by default.
Where it gets tricky is the temptation to check off this little box right here:
Also send email from you to Your circles
Ever wondered what exactly this box does? Here it is.
- If you check off this box, and you have less than 100 users in all your circles combined, each of those individuals will get an email notification of your post.
- If you have more than 100 users in your circles, but less than 500, each of those users will receive a Google+ notification of your new post.
- And if you have more than 500 users in your circles, or if you have already used this function earlier today, Google+ may tell you that you cannot send anymore emails.
You might be thinking that this function is the easiest way to generate traffic from up to 500 users. And while it might be in the short term, think carefully before you check off this box. Is what you are sharing super relevant to those in your circles? Because whether you realize it or not, this is essentially just glorified spam. Overuse of this function could lead to other accounts muting or blocking you. Choose wisely.
Try to save it for super important blog posts or announcements only.
Sharing to Communities
Finally, let’s talk about communities on Google+.
Communities are made up of groups of users who come together to share posts on similar topics. Most of them are open for anyone to join.
For instance, there are a number of communities dedicated to blogging, social media, internet marketing, food, travel, and so forth. And unlike similar groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, Google+ users seem a lot more comfortable with you sharing some of your own content.
Of course, before sharing to a community, consider interacting with some of its members. Introduce yourself, comment on their posts, and make a good impression. If you start indiscriminately sharing your own blog content to a number of communities, you could get banned.
The age-old rule applies of taking an interest in others before you can expect them to take an interest in you.
But if you are willing to spend a few minutes a day engaging with a half-dozen communities, you can easily leverage these groups to drive hundreds of visitors to your next blog post.