Google Plus and How to Use ItBloggers are unsure how to approach Google Plus and how it can be used effectively, especially since the changes that Google implemented in early 2012 to integrate Google Plus more effectively with its other services. You can use Google Plus to support your own writing and draw in more SEO results (especially if you are already an active Google or Android user) but knowing how requires a quick rundown of this often-confused tool.

What is Google Plus?

Google Plus, or Google+, or G+ (the many names are one source of confusion) is a social media tool Google tested and released in 2011, followed by updates in 2012. It is not a social network like Facebook, but rather a collection of social features that all work together under a single umbrella, united by ability to share information. The service started out with Sparks, a tool to help recommend websites and Stream, a Google-based newsfeed, along with other social devices, but grew more focused on sharing and recommendation as time passed.

Google Plus is notable today for its +1 button, seen alongside Facebook, Twitter, and similar promotion buttons located on blogs and sites. Many bloggers (and viewers) did not understand the purpose of this +1 button or how it could be used. Some used it anyway, while others stayed away until they had more information.

Why Should I Care?

This +1 button can be used to increase Google rankings! The more friends you have that click on that +1 button, the better Google tends to treat you in its search engine. It is an indirect process, but Searching Rankings are affected and can be increased by using Google Plus effectively. It helps to have lots of friends that also use Google Plus, but just including the button on your website or article page can have an affect. Google Plus was designed to feed into mutual interests, compounding the amount of attention your writing receives and making it even easier for like-minded people to find what you have created.

Why Not Just Stick to Twitter and Other Sharing Tools?

Other sharing tools are not Google. While the +1 button is a roundabout way to increased rankings, it offers an additional method to increase response to your work. When someone clicks a +1 button, that page is considered to be liked by that Google Plus user. Google takes these findings into account, and the next time a friend (also using Google Plus) searches for a similar topic, that +1 makes it more likely that the web page will be one of the first links returned on the search.

Essentially, Google Plus acts behind the scenes, increasing the likelihood that people connected on Google Plus will find the same websites. As the likelihood increases, so do the website hits, and eventually Search Rankings are increased. The +1 button also tends to increase follow-through, recommendations using other tools, and link shares. It does not replace any of the handy SEO tools or writing styles in your toolbox, but it does provide another enhancement you can use.

Google has also continued to add more capabilities to the Google Plus sharing functions as time has passed, making it easier to track results and "like" objects like photographs as well as links or web pages. The +1 button is a very new tool compared to common buttons like Digg, and its place in Google's long-term strategy is still uncertain. However, the potential is vast. Do not let this powerful SEO tool go unused simply because it has an indirect impact rather than a direct effect. Even if you do not use Google Plus, people visiting your blog or article may. In the end, you can still benefit.

Dan Ripoll is co-founder and CEO of Content BLVD, a crowdsourced content marketing platform enabling businesses and bloggers to publish informative, engaging content and grow their audience