Ready to get started with Google+? The following guide by blogging expert Kristi Hines will help you set up your Google+ personal profile.
To begin creating your Google+ account, sign in with your Google Account on the Google+ Start Page If you don't have a Google Account, you will be directed to create one first.
Before you sign up (if you haven't already), here are a few things to keep in mind. You want to link your Google+ personal profile to the Google Account you use the most in your personal life. That way you have one login for your YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Google+ profile. This will also mean that you can receive your Google+ notifications while logged in to these other Google applications as well.
On the flip side, what you don't want to do is use a Google Account that is not permanently or 100% completely yours. If you have a Google Account for your business, for example, you might not want to use that if others have to access that Google Account as well. Or if you have a Google Account that will go away once you leave your job because it is linked to a corporate email address, you will not want to use that either.
Creating Your Profile
The first step to creating your Google+ profile will be to add your profile photo. Be sure to use the same image that you use elsewhere on the internet for strong personal branding. If you want to be recognized easily, you will want to use a consistent photo for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Gravatar (for blog commenting). This way, people will be able to recognize you if they are connected to you elsewhere.
Next, you will be asked to find people you know through Yahoo or Hotmail.
If you don't use these email providers, you can skip this step and continue on to suggestions. Here, Google will pull connections you might recognize from your Gmail. If you don't use Gmail already or have just created your Google Account, you will not have any suggestions and have to use the Google+ search to find people to connect with.
If you continue without searching, Google+ will also suggest some celebrities, journalists, photographers, and other public figures for you to follow.
What I would suggest, before you start connecting with others, is to complete your profile first. This way, along with that consistent profile photo mentioned earlier, people will be able to recognize you easily or at least know why they would want to connect with you. Click continue, and then when Google+ warns you that you might be lonely without making connections, click continue anyway.
Basic profile information
Once you are past Google+ recommendations, you can start adding more information to your profile. First, Google+ will ask you to enter your school, employer, and where you live.
You will also have the option to change your profile photo beneath these fields, or you can click Finish. From here, you will need to go directly to your profile to enter the rest of your information. To do so, click on your name next to your profile photo at the top of the left sidebar, or the profile icon at the top of your Google+ home page.
When you do this, you will be prompted to enter basic information that you might have previously skipped, plus your Tagline.
The Tagline is especially important as it shows up at the top of your profile beneath your name and is used as part of your profile's meta description. You can also add Scrapbook photos - these five photos will be shown near the top of your profile, below your name and tagline. If you choose to skip entering your information here, you can continue to your profile. To continue adding information to your profile from here, click on the blue Edit Profile button.
To edit any information on your Google+ personal profile, simply hover over the area you want to add information to and click on it. Whenever you click on an editable section of your profile, a box will pop up for you to fill out the appropriate information. These areas include the following.
This is the line directly below your name. If you did not enter it earlier, it will say A brief description of you. Click on that to edit your tagline.
If you did not enter any Scrapbook photos earlier, you will see a space below your tagline that says Add some photos here. Here, you can enter five photos that feel best represent you. Click in this area to start adding photos.
They can be headshots, portraits, examples of your photography, samples of your portfolio, or any other images you choose.
This is one of my favorite parts of the Google+ personal profiles. It should say something to the effect of Put a little about yourself here so people know they've found the correct you. Click on this area to get the rich text editor for this section.
This is a great place to have an extended bio about yourself. Be sure to include your most important links with great anchor text! Also, note that the first 50 or so characters of your introduction shows up as a snippet below your name in Google+ search results, so make them count!
Continue through the rest of your profile, adding additional information such as your Bragging Rights, Occupation, Employment, Education, Places Lived, Contact Information (Home & Work), and other personal details.
Also, especially with your Home & Work contact information, note the privacy settings and be sure that you set yours to your level of comfort.
Other Profiles, Contributor To, and Recommended Links
To the right of your Google+ profile information is a column for all of your links, organized by Other profiles, Contributor to, and Recommended links.
When you click on each section, you will get the opportunity to add links with your desired anchor text.
Typically, you would include the following types of links per section:
- Other profiles - links to your other social profiles including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. If Google thinks it has found a profile of yours on a social network, it will suggest you add it here.
- Contributor to - links to your author page on websites you write for. This is typically how Google makes the authorship connection with your articles.
- Recommended links - links to any website you choose. This can be for your business, blog, hobby sites, or just sites you enjoy.
One thing I have noticed with regards to the links you add to these sections is that they will sometimes appear in search results next to your name. Google seems to rotate between showing the first three links under your Other profiles or the first three links under your Recommended links.
This is a major factor to consider when choosing which links you will add first and what anchor text/label you will give them as they might appear to searchers before they even make it to your profile!
The final result if you fill everything in should look a little something like this:
Just remember when you fill in each area of your profile that it could be the first impression that someone gets of you. Make sure to put your best information forward!
Status updates on Google+
While you might be in the mood to start making connections, there is one more thing you should do before you start adding people to your circles. Add some public updates to your profile that will show others why they should connect with you. If you plan to connect with other people in the SEO industry, for example, you might want to share a few links to great SEO posts.
To send a status update on Google+, go to your Google+ home page. Then click in the Share what's new... box under the new stream column. This will expand the box so you can choose to add a photo, video, link, or location check-in update.
When you paste in a link, you will get the option to select different thumbnails and enter a comment that will go above your update.
You always have the option on each status update to change the visibility from Public by clicking on the X in the Public button and then adding circles or people to share with. Keep in mind that Public updates are the only ones that will be visible to people who have not connected with you yet. These are updates that will keep your profile active and make more people want to connect with you.
You also have the option of tagging people in your status updates, regardless of whether you are following them, or vice versa. To tag someone, simply enter @ and then start typing their name right after the @ symbol. While this is a great way to get people's attention to let them know you are sharing a post by them, be sure not to go overboard on it.
Connecting with others
Now that you have completed your Google+ personal profile and made some updates, you are ready to start connecting with others and are in a better position for them to make that connection mutual. To connect with others on Google+, you will add them to Circles.
Circles keep your Google+ contacts organized in a way that you can view only updates from one circle at a time and you can share updates with one or more circles instead of publicly. When you are thinking about how to organize the people you connect with, think about the people whose updates you would like to see separate from others and who you would like to share particular types of updates with. If you need a little inspiration, one of the best discussions on circle organization I have seen on Google+ was started by Mari Smith's Google+ Circles Makeover.
To see Google's suggestions of who you should connect with based on your Gmail or other Google contacts, click on the Circles icon at the top of your Google+ home page.
Here, you will see suggested people and your circles. You start off with four basic circles - Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following. You can edit these circles to change their names or delete them by clicking directly on them.
Once you have suggested connections and custom circles, it will look a little like this:
To add suggested connections to your circles, just drag them into the circles you wish to add them to. Whenever you add someone to your circles, they will receive a notification with the option to add you to their circles. You will also receive similar notifications when people add you to their circles.
Once you have exhausted your suggested connections, you can find more people by using the Google+ search box. Just enter the names of people you know, company names, particular keywords, or other search criteria.
From here, you can go directly to the pages or profiles in the results, or add people to your circles by using the Add to Circles box in the results.
You can check the box next to the circle you want to add them to, or use the Create new circle link to create a new circle for them. Remember that circles will allow you to send updates to specific groups of people and also allow you to see only status updates from specific groups of people, so organize them wisely!
Once you have started connecting with others, don't stop there. Be sure to interact with them by checking out their latest updates and giving them a +1 or better yet, a comment. Keep in mind you can tag people in comments just like you do in status updates using the @ symbol immediately followed by their name.
More ways to find people to connect with include the following.
- Visit other people's profiles to see who they are following and who is following them.
- Visit your favorite blogs and see if the authors have Google+ profiles.
- Check out the Top People on Google+ to see who has the most followers.
- Comment on public updates by others on Google+. This will give your profile public exposure to all of the followers of that user.
Additional tips and resources
Want to do more with Google+? Here are some additional things to do to gain exposure on the Google+ network.
- Check Your Settings - When you are logged in to your Google+ personal profile, you can go to your Google+ settings to change your email notifications, who can comment on your public posts, who can message you, and more.
- Claim Google Authorship - If you write content on a blog on your own site (or others), consider following the steps for Google Authorship so that your Google+ profile photo and name will appear in search results next to your articles. Once you've followed one of the two options provided, don't forget to fill out the form to notify Google.
- googleCards for WordPress - If you are running a WordPress site, you can use the googleCards plugin to add a badge to your site so people can connect with your personal profile.
- Start a Hangout - If you're comfortable with live video and want to connect with up to 10 people in a video chat room, try Google Hangouts
- Download the App - If you have an Android phone or table, check out the Google+ application from the Android marketplace. For iPhone or iPad users, try this Google+ app from iTunes.
Now that we've looked at how to create your Google+ personal profile, let's enter the world of Google+ pages.
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