How To Use Google+ | A Quick Guide To Google Plus

The below post is from just after Google+ was launched and still is a very useful piece about Google+. Also be sure to read about What Google+ Really is all AboutHow To Become That Suggested User on Google+ and The Complete Google Plus Cheat Sheet or take a look at all the Google+ posts we have here on State of Search! 

Google + has arrived and pretty much every SEO I know are already on it. Yesterday was probably a complete waste of a day for most SEOs as pretty much everyone was busy playing with Google +. I was no exception. In the words of Matt Cutts: “It’s like crack, but in a good way”.

So I’ve spent some time going through the current key features to give you a “crash course” in Google +:


This is the major functionality that although initially looks just like facebook friends, differ in one important area; categorisation! Basically, circles is a way of categorising your Google + contacts into groups. For example below I’ve added circles such as “SEO Peeps” which has every SEO contact I have added, but then I have also added a separate circle for “UK SEOs” to further categories. In addition I have separate circles for my “Friends” (you know those people you see in person) and “Family”. To me this is a very good way of social networking as I have a lot of digital content (whether it’s blogposts, videos or even images) that I want to share with one group but not necessarily with another. On facebook my mum and dad are forever asking (and worse; commenting) on my SEO related content I share. It’s just not really relevant to them.  Equally, having recently (ok so 8 months ago) had another baby and I’m sure a lot of my SEO colleagues are getting sick and tired of seeing loads of baby pictures. Most importantly the categorisation in Google + is EASY to do, you can add as many circles as you like and you can have one person in several circles. The only potential issue is for those of us that resembles Monica (in Friends) and over-organise. I still to this day can’t understand my original “filing system” of tags.


Functionality of uploading photos works pretty much the same way as facebook, but I have a sneaky feeling it will expand and have added functionality in no time at all. I bet you photos in Google + will rank VERY highly in Google Image search before you know it.

When you upload photos you get asked to create a new album or add to an existing album. After you have uploaded the photos you can go into each photo and “add tag” just like facebook. Any pictures you have been tagged in will then also appear on your profile and as “pictures of you” within the photo section (again just like facebook). The only thing I’m missing from a “tagging level” is the opportunity to do the tagging on upload level so I don’t need to go into each image. There are also some nice additional functionalities at this level such as: edit the picture, text and also adding comments which comes up at the right of the picture as a speech bubble.

The one thing the photo section has that facebook don’t have (as far as I know) is the ability to share with specific circles only (see below). This is a nice function as thereare some photos you might only want your friends to see and some that are solely work related.


I had my Google + hangout virginity taken yesterday when I “hung out” with Sam Murray over Google +, whilst he was sitting next to me I might add, ehm yeah that’s slightly lame but we just wanted to see what it was like. So what is the “hangout” all about? It’s basically a way of hanging out with loads of people at the same time using video chat. You can add one or even several of your circles to your “hang out”.

When you have invited people to join your “hang out” a post will appear in their stream. If there are less than 25 people in a hang out they will also get a notification that they are invited to a hangout. And as we discovered if I start a hangout but a hangout is already going on I get notified and can join the current one instead. The most interesting thing about a hangout though is that it’s not “closed”, since anyone in the hangout can invite anyone else, people you don’t know may know and can join the hang out.

Instant Photo Upload from Mobile

Now this is pretty cool, it automatically puts all photos you take on your phone to a private album on your Google +, you can then decide whether you want to share them with any circles. BUT it can only be done if you have an Android phone, booo!


This is basically a personalised content feed into your stream, you tell “Sparks” what  you are “in to” and they will send you stuff (videos, content etc) that’s relevant to you. To be perfectly honest I wouldn’t use this as it would just fill up my stream with crap that I haven’t got time to read. But for the mainstream this I suppose could be useful(ish). To be honest you have RSS, Google Desktop and other stuff to do this. For me sparks is not so sparky, but I have already seen loads of people raving that they really like it.


Huddle is basically a “group chat”, allows you to chat with several people at once over your mobile. Basically text messaging on steroids. But as it stand I STILL haven’t been able to figure out how to “huddle” as there are no obvious links or mention of it. I’ve just been told that you can only “huddle” if you have an Android fun which is a bit rubbish.

Is Google + just another facebook?

I have already seen loads of people blogging and tweeting about Google Plus saying that it’s just like facebook, heck someone has already done a blogpost about how to make it look EXACTLY like facebook (which is just weird). But the BIG difference between facebook and Google + is that you can categorise your sharing. For me this is a BIG plus (haha get it? Plus), as I have a lot of things that I want to share with my SEO friends and colleagues but that I don’t necessarily want to share with my family and friends . This is a simple, yet genius difference between the two. Google + profile and posts are also public, the profiles can be seen by everyone, and each “post” has its own unique URL making Google + a contender with Twitter for indexable shared content. Lastly and maybe most importantly to us SEO and Social Media specialists, this initiative from Google proves they are taking social seriously. Merging Google properties into Google + and integrating it with the SERPs WILL have an impact. Let’s just hope it’s not too easy to game from a spam point of view . All in all, my initial thoughts are that this could definitely work, Google’s big challenge will be tidying up the bugs and usability kinks fast enough for the actual launch. And that launch need to be pretty sharpish, it would be such a shame to lose out on the “buzz” (pardon the pun) that all the early adopter (aka geeks) are making. Lastly I think it will be of utmost importance to get Apps (for iPhone and Blackberry) launched ASAP, it would be such a mistake of Google if they launched it without mobile apps.

Lastly here are some Google + shortcuts that might be handy:

J = scroll down

K= scroll up

Enter =  Start commenting

@Username = links to the user so that they can see it in their profile/stream

“text” = makes the text inside the brackets bold

_text_ = makes the text italics

For more information on Google + check out these links:

Google’s official guide to using Google +
Google + Help Section
Google’s introduction blogpost to Google +

Would be great to hear your thoughts for those of you that are on Google + already, plus and minus and so on. See you in the SEO circle 🙂

More posts about Google+


About Lisa Myers

Lisa Myers runs her own SEO & Social Media Agency; Verve Search based in London (UK). She is also founder of the SEO blog; and was co-founder of State of Search.

123 thoughts on “How To Use Google+ | A Quick Guide To Google Plus

  1. I always knew there was something missing from Facebook, but I could never quite figure out what.

    Now I realise it’s this Circles thing.

    I’ve always kept Facebook just for Friends and family cos I don’t really want or need any crossover between my personal and professional life.

    Also, I’ve always cringed when hearing about a young relatives latest drinking session!

    Maybe Circles can keep me more in (or out) of the loop (ahem).

  2. Looks like Google has a winner here..but I’m not going to speck too soon . I will have to give it an test drive first.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. Great post about Google + Lisa.

    I especially like the categorisation, making it easier to share with the people you want to see it. Hangouts also seems to be a very good and unique feature.

  4. Yes, Google+ is like crack. I had only planned on suffering from one addiction in July – the Tour de France. Now I have two! And thanks to your tutorial, I have more to play with.

    Thank you for the write-up. BTW, you are very photogenic! I’m off to share this on Google+ …

  5. I always thought that this was where Facebook were heading. However, it’s not so surprising that it’s Google who have got there first, let’s see how Facebook react! Exciting, Progressive Times!

    Thanks Lisa

    Ben Holbrook

  6. Well illustrated Lisa. You make many valid points here… one being.. Google+ is Addicting! I looked up on Friday night to see I had spent like 3+ hours on it, when it seemed like 45 minutes. With all the fun I had building circles and monitoring my stream, I haven’t yet done a Hangout! Imagine! Nice work on the photos too.

    Off to share this on Google +.


  7. I was quite lucky to get access to Google Plus and loving it so far. I love hangout, was chatting to a few friends on it and it’s a great product so far.

  8. I’m also playing around with it, but I don’t understand all the fuzz about the circles. In Facebook I’ve added everyone in lists. Friends separate from family, work related sure separate etc… And no one except my family can see all my photo albums. You can define precise which list of people can or cannot see your albums. My collegues cannot even see the pictures of others where I’m tagged in. So the difference is not that big with Facebook, the UI is! In G+ is easier for people who have difficulties searching around in options.

  9. I think it’s going to be interesting to see if people are willing to invest time in setting up yet another profile on Google. I think Google could really win when Internet TV’s with Google OS get rolled out in the future. They will most likely make it a necessary part of setup for these devices and perhaps future mobile phones. It will eventually make sense to most users to use Google OS, Andoir Apps, Search and Social all together as people are inherently lazy and would rather use one provider for everything. Still this is just a hypothesis!

  10. Your post says quotes for bold. It’s asterisk though. *bold* would make it bold. Not “bold”. Great article though!!

  11. You can easily create closed groups in Facebook, so not sure why Google+ gets so much plus on that front?

  12. I hate changes… Just as I got comfortable with FB and Twitter (yes, I am a late bloomer, although a quick learner), now there’s this.

    I suppose it’s time to stop talking and start doing and by doing I mean stopping reading what everyone else says about Google Plus and getting down in the trenches playing with it.

    Thanks for your wisdom, Lisa; it’s time I got some of my own. 🙂


  13. So is the +1 button for a specific page or your site or for the entire site? For example. If I have a +1 button on one of my articles or my subpage, If a person clicks it, does it give my entire domain +1 or just that specific article or subpage?

  14. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% certain. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  15. Nobody I know will use Google+, it’s a mess, it’s hard to use, it’s complex. Only those with agendas and businesses will use this. But honestly, it’s hard for the ordinary person to take to because it’s not simple enough. It’s also redundant. It may be of interest to internet savvy folks but that’s about it. Regular ppl won’t give a damn.

  16. Great post on Google+. I am so ashamed of myself for being a member since last summer and not taking advantage of this wonderful network like I should. I am going to read the posts you have provided to gain better knowledge and understanding.

  17. Hi Lisa

    Great post plus enjoyed seeing you speak at SMX London earlier in the week. 

    Quick question for you, you can use Google plus as an individual plus as a business set up a Google+ Page. I just wondered if you had any thoughts as to when you’d use the 
    Google+ Buisness Page, especially for someone like me, or a small business who would not be wanting to update two areas?



  18. What’s your opinion on google+local? Will there 3rd attempt of going social go viral? buzz was silenced, wave which I loved crashed …will merging google places with +resolve their social envy?

  19. Thanks for the post! We just recently created a Google+ page but thought it was exactly like you said – just another Facebook. Would you say Google+ is worth it, even if we’re posting things no more than once a week or so?

  20. See, I’m so useless that I don’t know if I just posted my message to you! Please let me know if I did or did not !!!

  21. Its easy for people that know what they’re doing, if you don’t know how to use thhen stay away from it. It will become more popular than Facebook over time as it developes, as it do when people got sick of MySpace and migrated to facebook. And of course you can only use it on android…Google runs android you idiots. The cool thing about Google plus is that Apples cult can’t use it. Brainwashed by a highly restricted OS and overpriced products, they are blinded and unable to explore the wonders of Google’s massive kingdom

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  28. How about what if you don’t want everything to be public? I know you’re required to use your real name, so can you use Google+ without having your real name linked to everything basically… so that you can still share things among people you want to much like Facebook?

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  40. As a newcomer to Google Plus and only just beginning to understand what this can be used for and how it should be used differently from Facebook and Twitter your post has been really helpful, the circles functionality is working out to be highly useful!

  41. Thanks for well written post.

    I have a question. Google gives us categories of freinds,family, acquaintenances, following, fun & intersesting, technology. If I make a contact on a related business topic (my focus is business) Do I check off following? acquaintence? Thanks for your comment

  42. Thanks for your incite on Google+. Just getting into it and was confused about a lot of aspects of it.

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  44. Lisa, will Google + accept HTML? Can I use a strong keyword phrase as an anchor text when I link to a blog post?

  45. Hi Lisa, Thanks for the information. Wondering if you might know more about another function where I find a business I like then plus 1 the page and star the page however I cant seem to be able to get back to it. Is the a bit where I can a list of pages that I “like” as such? Cheers, Ella

  46. I think I figured it out!! HA HA thanks, I realised if I go to google maps I can a list of my places where it has starred businessess as well as recent searches. groovey eh

  47. We’re probably the last people to get on Google + ! But I think it’s important to be on there…thanks for sharing and shedding some light on how to use it! Cheers

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  49. Hi Lisa,
    Do you think we should encourage clients to send us their photos for Google+ and we caption them with keywords?

  50. Thanks for the information. The circles are a great concept for google. It makes it a lot easier to set up events and activities.

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