How to Build Trust on Google Plus

G+ Passport

Google wants to trust you.

It needs to trust you are who you say you are, your content is yours, and you have authority in your niche. It requires this in order to deliver the most relevant search results possible.  Search is its bread and butter. So it created Google Plus, its “identity” engine.

In this article, we’ll look at “trust.”

Why does Google make it such a priority, and how can we use Google Plus to build it?

With the creation of Google Plus, Google issued passports in the form of Google Authorship to validate and link your profiles to your content. Using the “+” in Google+ as a skeleton key, it gives you access to all of its properties: Google+, YouTube, GMail, Picassa, Google Drive, Maps etc..

With every check in, Google gathers your data and uses it to calculate where you’ll show up in search results. Included in that calculation, is the (non official) authorship rank it assigns to you based on your social signals (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest shares etc), influencer validation, and content quality.

How does this relate to your business and trust?

“All things being equal, people will do business with those that they know, like and trust. All things being unequal, people will do business with those that they know, like and trust.”  ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

Trust is the bedrock on which we build communities, networks, and business. You’d think that it would be at the centre of every company’s marketing plan. You’d be wrong.

As Mitch Joel points out in his post, Who Do You Really Trust?,

“Trust is a topic that isn’t approached or appreciated nearly enough in the business world, especially if you consider how important it is.”

This could explain why businesses have such a hard time with social media.

Do we trust Brands?

According to a Forrester Research report cited in Mashable70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising.

Forrester Trust Brands Study Google PLus Trust

Are companies listening?

They pursue transactions, not relationships. They confuse advertising with marketing. There’s a place for advertising.

That place just happens not to be in our social streams.

How do we use Google Plus to build trust?

The same as we do in real life.

1. Mingle

-Find people using new Google Explore.

Start by adding people you already know to your circles. Then go to the new Explore button on the upper menu bar and do a hashtag search for your product or service or other keywords related to your business.

Google Plus Hashtags

Google likes Hashtags.

So much so, it automatically adds them to your posts. (unless you switch that option off).

Once you find related posts, you can research, add the authors to your circles, then dig deeper for more related hashtags by clicking on the hashtag on the upper right.

2. Introduce yourself

-Hover card, Profile

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression”.

The hover card that appears when someone hovers their mouse over your profile photo or name, is the first impression of you many get.

What appears on your hovercard comes from the information found on your G+ Profile. Start by making sure it’s completed.

Go to the About tab on your profile and start with a well lit, full-face profile photo.

This will be the photo linked to your Google+ account. Then insert keywords in the body of your profile cards that suit your industry.

Complete all of the cards:

  • Story: Tagline (appears on hovercard)~Intro ~ Basic
  • Work: Occupation ~ Skills ~Employment (appears on hovercard)
  • Basic Info: (basic: gender, birthday etc.)
  • Links: Other profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) ~ Contributor (Important to link to sites for authorship here) ~ Links (other)

Google Plus Hover Card Ray Hiltz

For a thorough look at the power of G+ Hovercards and Profiles, I recommend Stephan Hovnanian’s article: Google Plus Hovercard: the ultimate personal branding tool

Some instances of where the Google+ Hovercard will trigger:

  • All posts
  • All comments
  • The Activity tab on a Google+ post
  • The +1 activity on any comment
  • A +mention in a post (or comment)
  • Your posts when someone is browsing the related hashtags on a post

3. Shake hands

– Hangouts – the most powerful and quick way to build relationships online.

What's Your Google Plus Plan HOA

People forget names all the time, but most remember faces. If you’re new to Google Plus, after doing a search for people you have interests in common and circling them, put aside some time to watch any of the hundreds of Hangouts On Air (HOA) that are broadcast every day. You’ll find one to suit your own interest.

There’s even a TV Guide type web page that gives listings for many of them:

These are usually held on an Event page where you can comment and ask questions. It’s a great place to connect with people. Place those that respond in an “engagers circle”. You can then reach out to them and other friends to do private Hangout Video Calls (HVCs) to get used to the platform and build your relationship.

If you want to build your authority, host your own HOA show. See: How and Why to Schedule Hangouts On Air Using Google+ Events

I still engage regularly with people I met on my first hangout two years ago.

Hangouts – the next best thing to shaking hands.

4. Present your credentials

– Google Authorship/Content – build your authority and influence

Your profile photo appearing in search results is proven to improve CTRs (click through rates), but it also lends you authority by just being there.

One glance at the typical SERP makes it very clear that not everyone with Authorship has their photo show up.

 It’s in Google’s best interest to serve up the most relevant results, so it’s careful whose the mug shot it includes in its search results.

It takes into consideration:

  • Author reputation
  • Relationship to the searcher (but only in personalized search)
  • Content quality
  • Site authority and trust level
  • Query suitability

In his article about Authorship and missing photos in search, Mark Traphagen researched Google’s change of algorithm in December that saw a purge of author photos from SERPs.

I was one of the authors who participated in his research. Happily (for me) my smiling face returned to SERPs in January.

Mark explains what happened and recommends what you should do to gain Google’s confidence:

1. Publish only on high quality, trusted sites.

“…you are known by the company you keep…any site that would let you publish on it without any check of your work or reputation, don’t go there.”

I’m proud to report that I passed the SteamFeed exams and hazing with flying colours!

2. Create quality over quantity.

“Stop worrying about how much you write and how many different places, and concentrate more on producing content that serves a genuine purpose, that stands out and says something unique and worthwhile, that is truly helpful or answers a question in a way no one else has already done.”

3. Be careful where you connect your Authorship.

Users are losing Authorship in search results if they have connected their Authorship to pages on sites that do not contain content that Google considers Authorship-worthy.

This is hit home by the recent announcement from Google about Guest blogging and SEO

4. Build and nurture your social networks.

“Your social network are your reputation builders. If you’ve worked hard at building a network of real relationships, made up of influential friends and enthusiastic fans, they will be sharing and engaging with your content.”

Social signals are an important indicator for Google of your level of influence.

5. Build Your Network

– Communities

I was recently a  guest on the popular HOA show, Chef Dennis Littley’s Good Day Google+ – Design, Development, and Strategies.

Before going “live” we were discussing the particular elements of Google Plus that differentiated it from other platforms.

Comparing it to Facebook’s walled garden, Google plus is a massive open park with a big Googleopolis at it’s centre that grows larger every day.

Like all big cities, its neighbourhoods are made up of  bars, cinemas, clubs and of course, businesses – places where we meet, mingle and grow our professional networks.

The major difference between Facebook garden and the Google park is you don’t need a member to invite you into those clubs. Search for a club whose mission is closest to your own interest, walk in, strike up conversations and build your network.

Google Plus Subscriber Community

If you want to establish your authority and build trust, create your own community.

There are four types: (from Create a Google+ Community)

1. Public (1) (searchable)

  • Anyone can join.
  • Anyone can find and see member’s posts (Think of them as “interest “circles)
  • Publicly searchable

Best for: Meeting people on Google+ who share your interests. Examples: photography, particular product line, current trends

2. Public (2) (searchable)

  • Anyone can request to join.
  • Moderator must approve.
  • Anyone can find and see member’s posts. (Access is public but creation limited by moderator)
  • Publicly searchable

Best for: Sharing content publicly, but limiting who can create it. Examples: local businesses, social media consulting, non-profits

3. Private (1) (searchable)

  • Anyone can request to join
  • Moderators must approve.
  • Only members can other members and posts
  • Publicly searchable

Best For: Creating closed communities for specific public organizations. Examples: specific product issues, trends

4. Private (2) (hidden)

  • Invitation only
  • Only members can other members and posts
  • Not shown in search results

Best for: Small groups to have more private conversations. Examples: Employees, stakeholders, customers, event planning, focus groups

Google has created a digital replica of our global village.

It has given us clear signals through it search algorithm updates, introduction of Google Authorship and semantic search that it wants us to do business on the internet as we do in real life.

People do business with people and if businesses want to compete they need to humanize their brand. When they do, they will seek out relationships instead of transactions.

Then they will win trust, build their authority and business will grow as their clients become their evangelists.

Have you seen changes in your search results since being active on Google Plus?

If you’d like to join our Google+ Tips & Topics Community, subscribe to my weekly newsletter and I’ll send you an invitation. Check out our weekly Google+ Tips & Topics Lunch Hangout every Tuesday at 12:15 pm ET.

Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz is a Google Plus specialist and Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts. Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus on his blog: His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and freelancers. Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.
Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz

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