Getting set up with a Google Plus profile is easy. The first thing you need to do is go here:
You’ll be shown a screen like this:
If you already have a gmail account then enter your email and password. You’ll be able to open your Google+ account with your existing gmail.
You’ll want to make sure you’re using a gmail account you have full control over. It’s best if it’s one you can use to login to all your Google products (like YouTube, Adwords, and anything of the other Google products you may use).
If you don’t have a Google Account or want to use a different one, click on the button on the top right. You can get a gmail account from that screen.
Once you’re logged in you’ll need to create your Google+ profile.
Google will auto fill in some of your information (like your name) that it will get from your gmail settings. You can also fill in the rest and then click on Upgrade.
That’s really all you need to do. At that point you have a Google Plus profile.
After that step they’ll ask you to add people you may know through your email contacts. I’d skip this (at least for now).
They’ll try real hard to get you to add people you know to what they call circles (which is just a group of your contacts).
I’d just skip all this at this point because you want to customize your profile before you add people. That way, people will know who you are and why they’d want to connect with you.
Once Google’s done trying to get you to add people, you’ll want to go back to customizing your profile.
Customizing Your Profile
Here I am on my Google + profile page:
A good place to start is by adding a profile photo. Your profile photo must be 250 x 250 or bigger and you can change it by clicking on it. They’ll let you upload photos or even use your web camera (if you have one) to get a photo. It’s best if it’s a real photo of you, especially if you plan to try to claim authorship of any content you create.
You can also change the cover photo (it looks like a banner) by clicking on it. They have a gallery where you can choose images or you can upload photos of your own for this space. The ideal banner size is 940 x 180.
When you’re done, just make sure you click on ‘Save’.
The next thing you want to customize is your About tab. You can do this by clicking on Edit profile.
There are several profile items you can update. You can have a tagline, tell a little about yourself, let people know about your education, and all kinds of stuff.
It’s important to have a tagline. For that I’d suggest typing in a brief description of who you are and what you do.
Your Introduction is next and that’s also important. If you want people to start adding you in their circles, you’ll want to add some information here as well. This is where you can expand on your tagline. Where people who want to know more about you can go to learn.
And remember, you can easily change any of this at any time.
You can also include your Occupation, Employment, and your Education. You can fill out as much or as little of this as you’d like.
The next section is more personal. I skip most of this.
If you’re going to include your phone numbers, you’ll want to make sure your Home & Work contact information is not public.
Personally, I don’t even include that at all.
You can decide if you want to include your Relationship, Looking for, Birthday, Gender, and Other names. This is all more personal in nature. Again, you can skip any of this.
The last set of profile settings can include links to your other profiles, where you’re a contributor, and links to outside sites.
You can also decide if you want your profile public and visible in search or not.
Once you’re done, click on ‘Done Editing’.
At that point you’re done with your profile, but you can always go back and change it later.
Share What’s New…
The next thing you’ll want to do is post some updates. You’ll want to add some content to your Google Plus profile. That way people with something in common with you will be more likely to add you to their circles.
You can do this by going to Home or your Profile page and then type in your content in the ‘Share what’s new …’ box.
In addition to text, you can add in images, video. events, and links.
If you click on the first icon you’ll see that allows you to add photos. You can choose from the options that show up on the dropdown list when you click on the photo icon.
The second icon allows you to add video. You can upload your video, choose it from YouTube, and even record it.
Clicking on the third icon over allows you to add an event. You can choose an image to represent the theme, select a date and time as well as include all the details. You can even invite people off your Google + contacts list.
The last icon is used to add links. If you’ve found an interesting article online you can add a link to it by clicking on the link icon.
If you’ve got a website, this is a perfect way to give a short introduction to a piece of content on your site and then link to it. That will help drive people from your profile to your website.
You’ll want to add at least a couple of updates to your profile to help entice people to add you as a contact. Post some interesting content or links to interesting content you have on your site.
Now that you’ve got a Google Plus profile set up, you need to start adding contacts. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up your circles.
Circles are just groups of people. You can add everyone into a single circle or categorize people. You can keep the default circles which includes Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following or you can add new circles.
If you’re interested in entrepreneurship and hockey is a hobby, you could add both those as circles and keep the people in those topics separate. That way people interested in entrepreneurship don’t get your posts on hockey.
You can set this up however you’d like.
Once you have your circles ready to go, you should find people to add to your circles.
They have a tab that’s titled, ‘Find people’ and that will help give you suggestions. It will pull people from your list of contacts and people you’ve emailed in the past. You can also type in names and find people that way.
Another way is when you’re doing a search in Google and you find an author, you can click on their name and you’ll be taken to their Google Plus profile. Then you can click on ‘Add to circles’. Now they are in your circle.
You can also visit other people’s profiles, see who they follow and who is following them. Some of these people might make good contacts for you. You can also follow authors on your favorite sites.
One thing to remember is that when someone’s in your circle, you’ll get updates from them. So make sure you really want updates from the people you add to your circles or don’t add them. So it probably makes sense for you to add family and friends (if you want updates from them) as well as industry news sources and industry experts.
It’s easy to drag and drop people around your profile. You can move them to different circles or delete them. You can also have people in more than one circle.
And anytime you add someone to a circle, they receive a notification and have the option to add you to their circle. You’ll also receive a notification when people add you to their circles.
By using circles and segmenting your contacts, you can send updates to certain groups of people. And circles also allow you to see updates from certain groups of people too.
Here’s the official summary of what happens when you add someone to a circle:
You can view updates from your circles by going to your Home page. From there you can select who you want to view updates from; All, Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and More. If you click on More then you can select more of your circles to view updates from. The updates will be displayed below the bar.
You can start building connections by interacting with the updates from your contacts. Give them a +1 (that’s the equivalent of a ‘like’ on Facebook) or you can comment on their updates.
Once you’ve got your Google Plus personal profile set up you may want to consider claiming Google Authorship. That way your profile photo and your name will show up next to your listings in the search engine results pages. This will increase your click thru rate on the pages you have indexed in Google. I’s also a great way for people who like your article to find out more about you (because they can click through to your profile page and even add you to their circles). So you’ll get more people adding you to their circles.
And you might also want to think about getting a Google Plus business page. These can be tied into your profile and can bring more exposure to your website.