Google+ is fast becoming the most important social network around. Not just because it is full of highly engaged and switched on people, but because it is ingrained in so many things. Everything Google does has some element of integration with Google+.
With that said, here is a guide to getting the most out of your Google+ profile.
Avatar and Cover Picture
The first thing anyone will see when they visit your profile page, or see your Google+ badge, or view a hover card when they move the mouse over your name… is your picture.
Google+ allows you to choose a profile image of yourself as well as a large cover image. I have seen some beautiful examples which are truly striking. Take care to have good professional images and you will see the benefits.
Compare these two profiles as an example, one has the default cover image and no profile picture. Which one would you rather follow?
It is not just the profile page itself that benefits from good images. I mentioned hover cards above. Every time your name appears in a Google+ enabled application, a hover card appears when you move the mouse over it. Take a look at mine.
When you view another person’s hover card like this, you will see either an Add button (allowing you to circle them right then and there) or a notification telling you how many of your circles they are currently in.
Time to tell a story
Your Tagline is a short description about you. Make it punchy and eye catching if you can, because it is the text that appears on your hover card.
The Introduction is really an opportunity you cannot pass up. Sell yourself as best as you can, but don’t make it all about work. What are you other interests?
What is more, the editor allows you use bold, italics, underlines, lists and hyperlinks! Not only can you make your introduction visually appealing, but you can also add links to your important websites. That does two things. It makes it easy for visitors to find your content outside of Google+ and if you choose your words wisely, you can also optimize your links for search engines.
Bragging rights gives you a chance to add a little jazz to your profile. Have fun with it so people know there is a human at the other end!
Work and Eduction
The information you put here helps Google make suggestions of who to circle. For instance, Google may suggest other people that worked at the same company as you, or who went to the same school.
The more detail you include, the more relevant the suggestions will be. It is a great way to connect with others and grow your following.
At a bare minimum, you should list your current occupation. People may wish to connect with you based on what you do for a living. Think of it as if you were filling in your CV. Also, your occupation appears on the ever present hover card.
One thing Google is really good at is geotargeting. With the Places section you can list all of the locations around the world where you have lived. It’s another piece of information that helps people connect with you (whether by viewing your profile or by Google making suggestions) and your current location also appears on the hover card.
There are three sections under links allowing you to add your profiles from other sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), add links to sites that you contribute to and custom links.
The Contributor to section is a really important one. Google Authorship is being talked about a lot right now and with good reason. One part of the process of linking your Google+ profile to the content you generate on other sites is adding the links to this very section. Google Authorship has excited many people, with the implications to Search results being foremost in people’s minds. There is a little more to the process than simply adding links to your G+ profile, but that is not the focus of this article.
There are a few other bits and pieces I haven’t mentioned. Basic information like date of birth, marital status, etc. You can fill in as much information as you want.
What if I don’t want to tell the world how old I am? You can control the visibility of every single piece of information on your profile. Literally. You can choose to make anything public, visible to extended circles, specific circles, individuals or just you.