Google+ launched in 2011, and has already grown to be the second-biggest social network in the Western world.

You’re probably already aware that using Google+ has a bunch of benefits, and that Google wants your business to use it. It’s still a relatively unfamiliar network for many people, though – and one that’s changing fast. Even if you’re fairly active on Google+, you may not know about these five features.

#1: Ripples show you who’s sharing content

Wouldn’t it be great to have an easy way to see exactly who’s sharing your posts – and how much reach and influence they have?

Google+ has a great feature for this, called “Ripples.” It’s incredibly easy to use, but many people don’t realise it’s there.

To view the ripples for a post, simply click the drop-down arrow on the top right and select “Ripples” – it really is as simple as that. And it’s not just available for your own posts – you can use it on other people’s too, so long as they’ve been shared publicly.

Here’s an example from a recent Copyblogger post on Google+

google-plus-ripples-copyblogger

 

You can see at a glance that Demian Farnworth, Martin Shervington, Bill Hartzer and the pave Author Rank & Google Authorship have all been significant sharers – as their connections have shared the post too, spreading it further.

Further reading:

Are Google+ Ripples a Worthwhile Feature?, Amanda DiSilvestro, Search Engine Journal

#2: Embedded posts let you integrate Google+ with your website

You’ve probably come across embedded tweets already. If you’ve never seen one, head to our Testimonials page and check out the tweet by @DebsReid_ — you’ll see that you can click follow, reply, retweet, favourite, etc.

Google+ now allows you to embed posts in the same way, so that readers can interact with them directly on your site. For a great example, see 10 Actionable Google Analytics Tips.

Like using Ripples, this is really straightforward: click the drop-down arrow on any post and select “Embed post”. Again, this doesn’t have to be one of your own posts.

 

google-plus-embed-post-hubspot

Copy and paste the code into the HTML view of your post. If you’re using WordPress, you could use the Metronet Embed Google Plus plugin instead.

Further reading:

How to Use Google Plus Embedded Posts in Your Websites, Joshua Berg, Real SMO

#3: Related Hashtags Are Automatically Added by Google+

You might know that Google+ uses hashtags (like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) – but you may not have realised that it automatically adds “related hashtags” to your posts.

Sometimes this is a handy time-saving measure – but it can also lead to your posts being tagged with phrases that you don’t consider especially relevant.

You can remove a related hashtag from your post by hovering over it and clicking the X that appears.

If you want to switch off related hashtags altogether:

  • Go to your Page settings (click the icon on the top right).
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  • Uncheck the box in the “Hashtags” section. Your settings will automatically be saved.
google-plus-hashtags-turn-off

Further reading:

How to use Google+ Hashtags to Help Your Business , Will Sigsworth, Social Media Today

#4: Bold, Italic and Strikethrough Formatting is Possible (and Easy)

Many Google+ experts believe that it’s fine to post longer content on Google+ than you would typically have on other social networks, and you may well be posting updates of 100 words or more.

It’s useful to use some formatting for these longer updates, just as you would in a blog post. Perhaps you’re already using short paragraph to allow for plenty of whitespace – but did you know that you can use bold and italic text too?

*hello world* produces hello world

_hello world_ produces hello world

-hello world- produces hello world (you probably won’t find yourself using this one much)

Here’s an example of bold text in use:

google-plus-formatting-bold-text

Use bold and italics just as you would in a blog post, to make individual words, phrases or sentences stand out. (Don’t go over the top, or it can start to look a bit choppy.)

You can also use bold text for subheadings – Google+ doesn’t have a subheading format.

Further reading:

How to Format Text on Google+ Posts and Comments, Gplus Expertise, on Google+

#5: The rel=publisher tag links brands with their websites

You may well already be using Authorship – but that links with individual’s profiles, not brand’s pages.

There is something similar for brands though, called “Google Publisher” or “rel=publisher”. It verifies brand identity, and applies to a whole site rather than individual posts.

At present, this tag offers limited benefits. Once you’ve enabled it and the update has gone through (it may take up to a couple of weeks), you’ll see a tick icon next to your website URL in the About section of your page, to show it’s verified. You may be eligible for Google+ Direct Connect, too.

Many SEO experts believe that rel=publisher will have more of an impact in future, so it’s well worth enabling it now – it’ll only take a few minutes.

To enable rel=publisher, simple login to Google+ as your page, go to the About section, enter your website URL there, then click the “Link website” link next to the URL.

You should see a pop up like this:

 

google-plus-link-your-website

Simply add that line of code to your homepage. If you’re using WordPress, a simple way to add the code is to use the Rel Publisher plugin. (Note you’ll need to enter just the URL, not the whole code snippet.)

Further reading:

Google’s rel=publisher Tag is For All Business and Brand Websites, Not Just Publishers, Ryan Miller, Advance Digital Search & Social Group

 

Were some of these features new to you? Drop a comment below to let us know which ones you’ll be using…

If you’d like to learn loads more tips and tricks for Google+ and other social networks, take a look at our social media training course. We will be happy to arrange a customised course for you and your colleagues, at your office: get in touch to let us know what you need.