What Falls Under a Google Account?
A Google Account is a user account that provides access to Google-owned services. You can use any email address to set up a Google Account; a Gmail address is not required. The Google Account is like an umbrella that holds underneath it the user’s YouTube, Gmail, AdWords, Google Plus, and so many more of Google’s digital properties.
With one single login, your law firm should be able to access its Google Places for Business, YouTube, and individual Google Plus Profiles. You do not and should not set up separate unaffiliated logins for each separate Google property.
The Anatomy of an Optimized Google Plus Page
If you allow your personal Google Plus Profile to maintain the default rainbow cover image, do not build out your profile, and fail to +1 or share posts publicly, no one on the network will take you seriously. If you are going to be present, do it right. Additionally, what many Google Plus users do not realize is that you have the ability to control the fundamental SEO associated with your Profile with what you write and how your write it.
- Cover Image – Make sure your law firm branding and messaging is consistent across all of your digital properties – and ideally consistent everywhere (meaning even offline). Use your law firm logo, full law firm name, a lawyers team shot or another nice image, and provide your main website URL and a phone number.
- Profile Image – Since this is your personal Google Plus Profile, this image should be a high-resolution professional photograph of you. This digital “you” should remain consistent across the web – on your Super Lawyers profile, on Avvo, on your law firm website, etc.
- Education – Listing your educational institutions and years of attendance serves a two-fold purpose: (1) it shows profile readers how smart you are, and (2) Google suggests connections associated with universities and years of attendance – this will help you find and make connections and help others find you as well.
- Contact Information – Users must associate an email address with their Google Plus Profile that has the same domain extension as the website for which you are seeking Google Authorship. Meaning, I had to associate and verify firstname.lastname@example.org in order to obtain the oh-so-valuable Google Authorship for www.staceyeburke.com. Since you can be an “author” for more than one website, this process can be repeated for multiple sites if you have a separate email associated with each.
- Story – You can embed links within this portion of your profile with anchor text as “do-follow,” so please use text within it to link back to your law firm website. Anything after 160 total characters is cut-off in your profile’s meta-description, so put the important bits first.
- Places – As with item 3 above, letting Google know everywhere you’ve ever lived allows for the network to suggest more relevant connections and communities.
- Links – You can associate virtually unlimited links with your profile. Do not save this spot for one lonely law firm URL – add your Super Lawyer profile, Avvo profile, other relevant directory listings, other social networks, and more. You can also break out your most important practice areas or services offered here as bullet points, each hyperlinked to an interior landing page on your law firm website.
- Work – Your most current “Employment” information is visible within the header, so make sure it’s correct. Use optimized language under “Occupation” and “Skills,” and add descriptions underneath each employer to show the most impressive work you performed with each entity.
Getting Started on Google Plus
- Authorship – At least one contributing author on Forbes.com lists Google Authorship’s increasing importance as the top SEO trend so far in 2014. Make sure that you properly set up Authorship for all of your law firm websites. Only with Authorship can come Author Rank, which Google uses as a factor in determining organic search results.
- Circles/Audience Building – Google Plus comes standard with some fairly boring default circles. Create your own – at the very least create one for lawyers and law firms. Each time you “circle” someone, that user is notified with an alert, and often they will “circle” you back – this is the basic fundamental concept of audience building. I tend to do it extremely strategically so that my profile is only associated with users I want it to be associated with.
- Communities – Do not start off your Google Plus lifespan by creating your own communities. Join relevant Google Plus Communities first, and interact with existing users who share your areas of interest. Some of my favorite communities include Lawyers on G+ and Lawyers of G+, as they are two of the most active.
Real Reasons to Use Google Plus
If my detailed checklist isn’t enough to get you excited about joining yet another social network (or maybe even your first), there are many valid marketing objectives to be served by “plussing.” Here are my top three real reasons that lawyers should use Google Plus:
- Lawyers as well as normal humans use social media differently and inconsistently; therefore, your best bet to reach your broadest audience for both referral sources and potential new clients is to be meaningfully present on all networks.
- One also gains the most comprehensive competitive landscape analysis from viewing what competitors do across all potential digital properties, not just a select few.
- Studies have also shown that Google Authorship photos showing up with organic search results increases the credibility of those results with searchers, thus increasing the overall click-thru rate.
Social Media Marketing with Stacey E. Burke, P.C.
Click on the YouTube video below to watch me speak on a panel with other experts on Google Plus for lawyers for some helpful basic tips and tricks for using the social network. If this all sounds like a bit too much for you to handle with your other work obligations, we can help. All of us here at SEBPC have handled social media accounts for years, and managed social media channels for law firms.