Google+ is a social network began a few years ago by Google in an attempt to catch up with Twitter and Facebook. To date it has 100's of millions of users, and it's growing. Like other social networks Google Plus has its own little behaviors which set it apart and means that you can get the most from it. To help you on the fast track to success in using Google+ for SEO here are my 5 handy hints for using it.
Follow Links in Your Profile
Like many social networks Google+ offers you a profile, you complete it on sign up and can edit it there after. But unlike many websites and social networks Google+ offers you follow links directly from within your profile straight away. For example here is my own.
As you can see the links contain any anchor text you want, in my own this is "free internet marketing resource for small business owners". In addition to this these followed links are complimented by links to websites you own and/or contribute to.
Google give you these great profile features for a reason, so use them.
Embed Links in Your Updates
As with your profile, you can also insert followed links into your status updates. Doing so means that your pages are likely to be indexed quite quickly, as SEOMOZ's Rand Fishkin says "Google+ is the new Google Submit URL".
Although Google claims that Google+ has no direct input to search rankings there certainly appears some correlation between statuses with links which get +1'd and shared alot and a web page ranking quite well. Even if only for the duration of a few weeks whilst the post is popular.
Optimise Your Profile Photo
You may have noticed that next to some search results on Google you now see an image of the author of that article or blog. These set your page apart and seemingly increase click thru rates.
In addition to this they can also increase your "connection rate" within Google+ as Cyrus Shepard demonstrates in the blog post on SEOMOZ.
Follow Those You Wish To Be Followed By
As odd as it may sound, its the same on many social networks, to get onto the radar of those you wish to be followed by you should first consider following them. They will usually get an alert of some kind, in Google+'s case it's a notification saying you've just been followed by X, Y and Z. Lets be honest when you get that kind of notification you think, "yes this is working" and it is.
So go on follow those you wish to follow you. Some inspiring figures to follow include: Barack Obama (needs no words), Richard Branson (an awesome entrepreneur), Tim Capper (a great SEO who's work i follow), Search Engine Land (a nice marketing resource), NASA (a regular poster), Rand Fishkin (of SEOMOZ fame) and not forgetting Andy Kinsey (you can follow me from my sidebar too)
Adopt Early and Gain More
As with everything it takes guts and effort to be an early adopter of a service, especially one such as social media sites where you are never sure if it will "make it" or not. Unlike some networks like friendfeed and myspace, Google+ isn't likely to be a drop in the ocean, more of a new ocean in the making. Google+ has the backing of the worlds biggest search engines and they have gone all-in to put G+ everywhere and anywhere they can - and successfully so.
So why do I say it's early? well Google+ is still small fry compared with Twitter and Facebook, it's catching up but will take some time. That said Google+ has a much more active following, users are about 5 times more likely to leave comment and converse in depth on Google+ than you posts on twitter or facebook. The later are more of a passing fad if you get a comment, where as Google+ seems to have users who are willing to give some serious time and effort to leave some worth in their comment. Not least because it may gain them followers and more +1's to their profile means more visibility means more marketing effect for what they are doing on Google+.