Saturday, March 3, 2012

Google+ Tips for Birders

Do you have a Google+ page yet? On the fence about it? Well, if you also have a blog or website you want to promote you had been bite the bullet and do it. Participation in this new social network has a direct impact on your placement in Google Search Results so it's in your best interest to join Google+ and start being social!

As with any social network it's not just about you. Think about your best friend. Is this someone who dominates the conversation and makes everything about them? If you try to jump in with a story about something that happened to you, do they cut you off and direct the conversation back to them? The answer is most likely no. The best types of friends are the ones who treat you like an equal and have just as much time to listen to you as you make to listen to them.

And that's how social media should work. So now take that concept (social media should be reciprocal) and apply it to Google+. Birders on Google+ like to post their bird pictures to their Google+ profile. If they're good pictures then it's inevitable the people that have them in their Circles (equivalent of the Twitter "follow") will +1 (the equivalent of the Facebook "like") and comment on their pictures. What happens next? Well, if this a savvy Google+ birder they'll add those people to their Google+ Circles (assuming they aren't spammers and had nice things to say) and +1 and comment on their pictures when they show up in their Google+ newsfeed.

Now, on to Google search results. If ranking highly in Google (having your blog/website appear at the top of results) is important to you, here are some tips on how to use Google+ to your advantage.

1. Post links to your website on your Google+ profile.

Ideally the pages should have something search-worthy as the title (the bird name or popular birding spot) and a picture thumbnail.

2. Name your image files.

Rather than using the number-based names your digital camera automatically assigns, click F2 (on a PC) and rename that image using the bird species name. For more details see my post about image optimization for SEO.

3. +1 Good Pictures and Web Pages on Google+.

By being a good "friend" on Google+ to other birders and photographers, they'll return the favor and start +1-ing, sharing, and commenting on your own pictures and links.

4. +1 Good pictures and Web Pages in Google Search Results.

In this example I was trying to identify a warbler I saw in California two days ago. It looked like a female yellow-rumped warbler but it had a yellow throat. So, I searched "female yellow-rumped warbler" clicked on the Images tab of Google Search Results and found this very helpful photo of one with a yellow throat that identified the bird as a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon's Population. I +1-ed it because I wanted to make sure I sent Google the message that this was a helpful result for my search "female yellow-rumped warbler."

This might seem a little out of the ordinary but it's incredibly important. Again, by being a good friend and +1-ing good pictures and web pages, your friends will be likely to return the favor and do the same for you. And it doesn't hurt to spread the word about this concept since it's new to a lot of people who aren't familiar with SEO. Mention it next time you're birding with friends and talking about your blogs.

5. Participate in photo themes.

One of the coolest things about Google+ (and relevant to birders) is abundance of photo themes. What are photo themes? They're prefaced by hashtags (#) and many include the day of the week in their name (for example #songbirdsaturday). One of the most popular bird photo themes is #birdpoker where you throw down your "card" to try and beat what's already been thrown.

I know that's a lot of information, but hopefully you'll find one or more of these Google+ tips for birders helpful! Find BirdingGirl on Google+ and feel free to comment there, or here on my blog.


Unknown said...

Awesome post, BirdingGirl! I have been so confused about Google+ that I am afraid to use it - and the Google Help pages are absolutely no help at all! I'm very excited about all this new information. Thank you!

Gene Vermillion said...

you have a great site. Thanks for demystifying G+.

Larry said...

Hmm-Interesting.I've been hesitant to join other social networks like facebook but your kind of selling me on this idea. Taking the time to figure it out and do it is another story.-Thanks for the information.