Are you on Google?

Have you claimed your brand on Google? A simple enough question, but surprisingly, most businesses DO NOT have a web, let alone a social presence. With Tucson still painfully creeping out of the recession (WalletHub recently reported Tucson ranked near the bottom of 150 recession-proof cities) it’s more important than ever to claim your presence on the web.

The initial argument that some may offer is, “Why Google+ when everyone else is on Facebook?”

A valid point. There may be many more folks on Facebook book… but everyone still uses Google to search… and hundreds of millions have Gmail addresses… and don’t forget the billion YouTube accounts in existence. As for SEO, Google really likes it when you play with their toys.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Getting your Google presence started is easier than you think. We’ve created this 5-step process to help you along the way.

1. Create your Google+ page.

If you haven’t already, get to Google+ and start building your page. Start by choosing the type of page you want: Storefront, Service or Brand

  • See image 1 in the carousel.

Next, type in either your business name or address and find it on the map.

  • See image 2 in the carousel.

Find your business on the list returned – if your business isn’t there, click on ADD YOUR BUSINESS at the bottom of the list…

  • See image 3 in the carousel.

…and fill out the information requested.

  • See image 4 in the carousel.

Once you’ve filled in all of the information, Google will immediately create your Google+ page.

  • See image 5 in the carousel.

2. Build Your Brand Presence

Fill out your business information on your Google+ page and don’t forget to add your images for your Profile and Header areas. If you’re at a loss as to what to use, you could use your logo on a white background for your Profile image and maybe a photo of the outside of your business (or a nice interior shot) for your Cover photo.

Here’s a quick guide for sizing your photos.

3. Claim Your Custom URL

When your page reaches these three mile markers:

  • You have ten or more followers (folks who’ve added you to their circles)
  • Your account is over 30 days old
  • You have a profile photo

Then you’re ready to get a customized URL for your Google+ page.

At your Google+ page, go to the HOME dropdown menu and select PROFILE.

  • See image 6 in the carousel.

Click the ABOUT link and scroll down to the LINKS section of your page. You’ll see the custom URLs that you can choose. Don’t worry, you can customize them here as well.

  • See image 7 in the carousel.

Click the I AGREE TO TERMS OF SERVICE box then click CHANGE URL. Google might want to verify your account via text message. If so, type in your mobile number (where requested) and click SEND CODE. A verification code will be sent to your phone. Enter that code in the box on the screen and click VERIFY.

When you’re happy with your URL, click CONFIRM CHOICE.

4. Grow Your Google+ Audience

In order to grow your Google+ presence, you need to let people know you exist. Most businesses start by posting the Google+ badge on their websites and broadcasting content. That’s a good start, but there are more ways to leverage that content.

1. Use hashtags in your posts. Like Twitter, folks on Google+ follow certain hashtags. Keep them short (under 15 characters) and they’ll keep working long after the original post ran.

Google+ will even let you know what’s currently trending. Piggy-backing on one of these trending hashtags will draw more readers to your posts.

2. Ask for follows – there’s nothing wrong with ending your Google+ post with “Please follow this page for more xxxx-related content!”

3. Create circles of your preferred clients – Circling is one of the easiest ways to grow your following. And be creative – create a circle of businesses right around you. Create a circle of possible customers at a community college or university.

By adding people and businesses to your circles, it makes it easier for them to add you back… and see your content!

4. Be real – Don’t just bullhorn your content out into the ether expecting folks to race to your content. Some may have questions or comments. Make sure to address them… not in a stuffy, corporate voice… but your voice. Talk to your customer – help them out.

5. Encourage reviews from your readers. Reviews increase your authority on your Google+ page and increase the chances of your page being included in the Google Search Carousel.

6. Share your business content on your personal Google+ page – it’s amazing how many businesses DON’T reshare their own posts! Just post your content on your business page, then log out of your account and log into your personal account. Navigate to the posting and +1 it then share it to your followers.

5. Link your Google+ and YouTube accounts.

Are you creating video to help your marketing? Are you collecting interesting video content that relates to your business? Make sure you share it on your Google+ page.

Google and YouTube are one in the same today – which makes it incredibly easy to link the two accounts. Google has created a page to show you how simple it is to connect your two accounts.