Peyton Manning prefers Google Plus over Facebook Twitter

My writer friends often lament, Not another social media site. Why should I add Google Plus to my author platform?

And I reply, Peyton Manning. As confusion spreads across faces, I attempt to explain.

Whilst checking blog stats for search engine keywords that sent perfect strangers to my blog, the term Peyton Manning was doing pretty well. Surprising since I forgot about writing on the great quarterback, and so I performed a Google search for Peyton Manning. Somewhere down the list this came up:

Peyton Manning Google PlusMemory jogged. After writing a blog post in Feb of 2012, I performed the routine of a blurb on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus with the exact same information: the Title and a Link to the blog post.

Over time, the simple Google Plus mention brought way more visitors to my blog post than either Facebook or Twitter, which fell out of favor quickly with search engines.

Obviously it helps that Google owns Google Plus. And it also helps that the search results will be filtered for people who have added me to their circles versus people who haven’t.

But still, when the blurbs were made back in Feb 2012 I had more Facebook friends and a similar number of Twitter followers, so why did the G+ mention do so much better over time? Since I don’t know, my reply is to just keep doing it.

As the explanation continues and confusion becomes less apparent on faces, these G+ tidbits seem to go further:

  • Google Plus has video hangouts with multiple people that are much better than Skype.
  • Google owns YouTube–hangouts can become YouTube videos with one click. (tutorial for doing that)
  • Google and YouTube are the #1 and #2 search engines in the world.
  • With the Contributor To and Rel=Author functions in place, you profile picture appears in search results.
  • Simple SEO Tips anyone can use will help bunches.

Are those enough reasons to add this social media super-site to your author platform?

What are your thoughts or comments?


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Google Plus Hangouts for Authors

Google Plus Hangout with best-selling author Hugh Howey

hanging with best-selling author Hugh Howey

For many people, Google Plus remains the social media step-child yet to be embraced. Often there’s reluctance stemming from the question, do I really need another one? After all, our free time for online marketing is pushed to the limit by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and whatever else we’re into. Who has time for another social media platform?

The answer is you, especially if you’re an author. Why? For several reasons but primarily for the Hangouts where you can conduct or participate in video conferencing with ten people and accomplish so much for publicity.

Here are some reasons why Hangouts on Google Plus are the way to go:

  • Facebook doesn’t currently have group chat directly through its site; instead it must be accomplished through applications or plugins with secondary vendors. And what FB currently has is inferior with fewer features.
  • Skype charges monthly for group video chat, while G+ is free and has more features.
  • Hangouts can become YouTube videos with the check of a box. No tech skills required, simply begin your hangout by checking the Enable box and it automatically becomes a YouTube video on your account (Google owns YouTube). Remember that YouTube is also the world’s 2nd largest search engine.
  • You can create an Event for the Hangout, where you invite the public or people from your circles ahead of time. Participants who want to attend will get a reminder before the show and a link for viewing.
  • Instead of just seeing each other’s face on camera, you can also share photos, screenshots of webpages, documents, videos, links, chat box and more during G+ Hangouts. Once the process is familiar, your hangout can resemble a well run newscast by a production crew.
  • It’s easy to design Google Plus purely around your business needs while leaving Facebook for friends and family. This is how it works for me and many authors I know since most FB accounts are already established for friends and family. Now there’s a social media site with so many great features that can be all about business.
  • Google Plus posts carry higher weight with Google’s search engine than Facebook posts. If you have a post or Hangout that gathers much discussion, it will do well with search engine results for that topic. In fact, it could be the best way for you to reach page one results for a competitive keyword term in the shortest amount of time.

There are many ways for authors to utilize G+ Hangouts. Probably the most common is conducting interviews. I do this regularly on a weekly Indie Authors show and the results are fantastic. Or you can delve into a specific topic–chat with people about politics, sports, dieting, relationships, etc. Book club discussions are another great way to share a book with the world.  Readers from multiple countries could discuss your book with you, the author, in the virtual room with them. Non-fiction writers may want to create tutorials this way, something I do frequently. It’s so effective because there can be students asking live questions and the finished product becomes a YouTube video that gets viewed for years to come. Here’s an example where I show the step by step method for getting this done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYEnQAGTTec.

The uses for G+ Hangouts are endless. If you’re an author, check out this great social media feature.

Share your thoughts and comments.

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Google Plus Hangouts for YouTube and Live Video Streams

Google Plus hangouts are perfect to stream live video to your website/blog, conduct interviews or infomercials, make a video with friends and family, to have any gathering easily and automatically become a YouTube video. Here’s a tutorial video:


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Monday Writer’s Hangout Google Plus, 6pm PST

writers hangoutLast Monday we hosted the first series of Monday Writer’s Hangout on Google Plus, an hour spent chatting about writing, our books and the self-publishing business in general. We didn’t have quite as much fun as the folks in this Zach Manchester Creative Commons photo, but it went so well we decided to make it a weekly event.

Authors young and old, experienced and newbie are welcome to join us, ask questions and lend their expertise to the group knowledge-base. Subjects which may get discussed:

  • ebook formatting
  • selling on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
  • finding good editors/cover designers
  • KDP Select
  • Smashwords
  • websites and blogging
  • selling with PayPal and Shopping Carts
  • social media tips for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus
  • how to get reviews and more…

Look for our writer’s hangout on Google Plus every Monday at 6pm PST (California), which is 9pm EST. Until I discover a better way, for those interested in hangin’ with us it’s best to get added to my writer’s circle on Google Plus by leaving a comment in this blog post below. Leaving a comment helps me distinguish writers from spammers, because some people spam my G+ profile with cirlce-adds and get ignored. After leaving a comment, visit my G+ profile and add me to your circles – http://gplus.to/JasonMatthews.

Having trouble calculating 6pm California time? Try this world clock – http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/.

If there’s a better way to announce a G+ hangout schedule, let me know in the comments too.

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?rel=me ?rel=author ?rel=really, Google?

rel=author rel=me authorship markup?rel=me and ?rel=author has left some of us asking, rel=wtf? This should be easier as my solution in the final paragraph reveals.

For authors who write blogs, articles or just have plain old websites, understanding these tags and their association to a Google Plus profile can be confusing to say the least. In my attempt toward comprehension, it seemed every lesson had slightly different variations on the same theme, sort of like the Gospel’s account of Christ’s life but on a smaller scale. Even watching top brass, Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson, explain in a 10-minute low budget whiteboard video presentation–there seems to be something… uh, lacking. Hey Othar, I need a telescope and a degree in handwriting to read your scribbles. (And I thought my videos were lame.)

For sites and blogs with single authors, it’s extremely important to jump through the rel=author hoop for verifying webpages to your Google Plus profile page. The tag, rel=author, defines authorship. Okay, so what’s in it for me, you might ask? Answer: your photo may get listed next to the search results of your page, may being the operative word. Aha, that’s what this is all about: getting your smiling mug on page one so surfers will click your link!

This tag can feel elusive especially since Google seems to continually tweak their instructions on how to make it, but it simply means that anyone who is a contributor to a website or blog and also has a Google Plus profile can follow a few steps to make Google aware of the connection. Since they’re the king of global internet search, as soon as I learned of this feature I raced to all of my sites and added the ?rel=author code (though not correctly the first time).

How do rel=me and rel=author tags get inserted? There are actually a few ways to accomplish the connection and then one main way to check that it’s working. The first thing you’ll need to do is create a Google Plus account with a recognizable face shot as your main profile image. Sorry, no dogs, family reunions or animations for the main profile photo.

contributor to Google Plus profileOn your Google Plus profile page (click your name from the home page), you can Edit to insert information about yourself, upload photos/video, as well as add URL links for websites and other social media profiles. When Editing, notice the section that says Contributor To where you can add the URL for all of your websites and blogs. It’s most common to use the “About me” page of your sites, or you could use the Home page. For newbies, I recommend copying and pasting the URL from another browser tab to confirm the URL is spelled correctly. Once that is done, you need to go to the corresponding “About me” or Home page of your websites/blogs and input your Google Plus profile URL followed by the tag, ?rel=author. For example, my G+ profile URL is https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/ so when I add the rel=author tag, my G+ profile link could be any of the following and even a few more variations:

https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313?rel=author

https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313?rel=author+JasonMatthews

Notice if you click on either of the latter links they direct you to the same G+ page, https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/.

These tags can go anywhere on the site that is crawled, even invisibly to visitors like in the <head> section:

<link rel=”author”

href=”https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/about

title=”+JasonMatthews”/>

Of course, in all of the above examples you’ll need to substitute your profile number and profile name where I have inserted mine.

This rel=author tag can be added to the <head> section, or a sidebar widget (like a G+ badge) or to signature text, or to the footer, pretty much anywhere. My form of overkill was to add some everywhere just to be on the safe side. All that really matters is the “Contributor To” links point from your Google Plus Profile page to your websites, and the rel=author tags from your sites point back to your Google Profile page. That’s how Google sees the connection and verifies that you are both the webmaster and person behind the Google Plus profile.

Next you can check your work to see if the link is being recognized by Google by visiting the Rich Snippets Testing Toolhttp://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets. Enter the URL address and click the Preview button. If you see your profile photo and a green line that says, “Verified: Authorship markup is verified for this page,” then you’ve got it and it should appear as this image below. If not, you can redo the previous steps or try some other methods.

Now, what about this rel=me business? Fortunately, all 10 of my sites were verified (I’ll explain below) without even adding rel=me, so this tag still feels elusive and delivers some of the more varied explanations by the experts. (However, rel=me has been around for quite some time as an element of XFN, which is a solution for identity consolidation.) From the consensus, rel=me seems most important for people who contribute to websites but are not the sole contributors to the sites, or for active bloggers who post with the rel=me tag that points to their “About me” page which points to Google Profile page. Confused? Perfect, you must be paying attention.

The ?rel=me tag can be used from any article and ultimately points back to the Google Plus Profile even if indirectly. If you post an article on another site and have an “author bio” on that site, your post can contain a rel=author tag that links to your “author bio” page that links with rel=me back to your Google Plus Profile (as in <a rel=”me” href=”https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/”&gt;). Hence Google sees the connection has been made. Good for bloggers who write multiple posts pointing to their own “About me” page or writers who moonlight and have an “author bio” page at someone else’s site. Still confused? It’s okay; I was too. Support for this from Google can be found here – http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1229920.

Google has recently added an email version to verify for those of us who still don’t quite get it:

Sign in to your Google profile.

Click Edit profile.

On the right-hand side, click the Contributor to box, and add all the sites you write for.

Next, click the Work box.

Click the New contact info box (the last in the list, and type the email address you use for the sites you write for.

In the list to the left of the email address you just added, click Email.

Click Save, and then click Done editing.

Repeat for every email address you want to add.

On your profile, click Verify next to the email address you just added.

Once you’ve finished and also Verified Authorship Markup with the Rich Snippets Testing Tool, fill out this form to complete the procedure – https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHdCLVRwcTlvOWFKQXhNbEgtbE10QVE6MQ&ndplr=1.

In my opinion, this could be a whole lot easier because Google has long perfected the method of verifying that we are webmasters of our sites by simply giving us a unique ID to insert in the site with either meta data or html code and then click the verify button at Webmaster Central. Boom, done, it proves we’re the webmaster. Couldn’t this be how they do our “Contributor To” option? Google could simply generate a long and unique ID number for our Google Plus “Contributor To” page. Then we could simply add that unique ID (or hyperlink to it for invisibility sake) to any article, blog post or website that we contribute to and tah-dah. If our “Contributor To” ID is unique, and since we’re the only ones who can Edit that section for adding the sites that we contribute to… then anywhere we put that ID and also add the site to our “Contributor List” would solve this problem. My solution is similar to what they’re doing, just with a few less steps involved, namely eliminating the need for both rel=author and rel=me. Hopefully this solution would also eliminate a lot of rel=wtf?

What are your thoughts?


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