Google+ Tips and Tricks for Bloggers (and yes, it’s worth it)

Image vi PlanetNaboo

Earlier this week, a post was published on IFB tackling the subject of Google+ and whether it could be a useful tool for bloggers.  I started to respond in the comments but realized that my thoughts and tips were actually better fodder for a post in itself.  The author of the post  listed some strengths and weakness that he has observed but remains unsure of the overall value of Google+ to bloggers. I do think there is value in Google+ for bloggers and I think as the social network continues to grow its value will as well.

In order to really make the most of Google+ you have to familiarize yourself with its capabilities.   Keep in mind that because the site is still in its testing mode Google is reliant on the feedback of its users to make improvements and add features.  Updates are happening all the time, but meanwhile these are some tips and suggestions that will help you make the most out of your Google+ experience.

For starters, I have heard many people suggest that they aren’t able to get a good feel for the site because their peers have yet to be invited so they have no one in their Circles.   Well, what are you waiting for?  Invite them!

How to invite your friends to Google+

There are various ways to invite your friends to Google+ but these are the two most common:

1. The official invite button: This is absolutely the easiest way to invite people but the button isn’t always active. If it is, inviting your friends is easy breezy; if not… there are workarounds.  The button looks something like this:2. Invite people using the famed Circles:  When I first joined Google+ the invite button was inactive due to the influx of new users.  I got around it by using this method:

  • Create a Circle specifically for new people you want to invite.
  • Add their email addresses to the Circle and SAVE.
  • Create a new post in your stream (ie: “New Batch of Invites!”)
  • Share the post with ONLY your new Circle of invitees.
    • Note: You MUST click the “also email X people not yet using Google+” button for this to work!
  • They will eventually get an email inviting them to join, but you can also let them know you invited them and they can try to join immediately.
  • That’s it!  In case invites are closed, tell them to try again the next day (evenings are usually better).

Either one does the job!

Sharing Google+ content

In order for you to experience the full benefits of a social network like Google+ (or Facebook/twitter) you have to share content (your own and that of others).   The whole point of social media is to be social right?  That means sparking conversations!

1. Mentioning someone in a post:  To mention a specific person in your post just add a + or @ symbol before their name.  That person, and any Circle you include, will see the published post in their stream.

2. Sending a private message via Google+:  This is very simple in Google+.  Create a new post in your stream and only include the person in question as the recipient

  • Note: If you want to make sure they can’t share the message with others you must disable sharing on the post.

3.  How do I disable sharing?  Very simple:

    • Share the post with the intended recipients.
    • Immediately click the down arrow in the top right hand corner of the published post.  This opens the edit menu.
    • Click “Disable Reshare”.
    • Done.

4.  Disabling/enabling comments: comments are automatically enabled on Google+.  If you want to disable them on a specific entry, follow the instructions in number 3 above to reach the same edit menu and enable/disable comment menu.

5.  Use the notifications button to see who is talking about you:  There is a somewhat hidden menu in the notifications area that allows you to see the following in an organized fashion:

  • Who added you to a Circle.
  • Who commented on your posts.
  • Whose posts you commented on.
  • Who tagged you in a photo
  • Who mentioned you in a post or comment.

If you know who is talking about you its easy to keep the conversation going!  Access this menu by doing the following:

  • Click on “View All Notifications”.

  • When the new page loads, pull down the “All-More” menu to the top right of the column.

  • Choose which notifications you want to see.

By mentioning you in a post or comment someone is engaging you in a conversation.  This menu helps you not miss those!

6. Share and +1 posts you like to recommend them to others:  The +1 button in Google is akin to the Facebook like button.  However, when you +1 a post it is not shared to your news feed.  Only the author knows you like a +1’ed post.

Make sure you also SHARE the posts you like to the appropriate Circle in your stream.

7. What if I want to link to a specific Google+ post on my blog?  Is that possible?  Yes!  In order to get the direct URL to a Google+ post just click on the post’s timestamp (the time/date). Copy/paste as needed.

8.  Is there an easy way to publish my blog posts to Google+?  At the moment Google+ does not have any functionality in place that allows a user to auto-publish blog posts like on Facebook and twitter.  Instead you must:

  • Share content the old-fashioned way by copying/pasting one link at a time into your stream.  OR
  • Create a Sparks search for your blog.  If your content shows up in the search sharing becomes as easy as clicking a button!

What are Sparks?

Sparks is Google Pluses way of providing user-dictated content.  You are able to enter/save any interest or search terms you like and content that matches is returned to you.  Truthfully, I haven’t explored Sparks much but I have found it useful in a number of ways:

  • Ability to search for your own blog content as mentioned above.
  • Ability to search for news on topics of interest (ie, Tom Ford, fashion, etc.).
  • This likely won’t happen to you, but Sparks discovered a blog that was stealing my content!

Although (hopefully) the last part will never happen to you, Sparks may help you might find news on your favorite designer, movie reviews, recipes or a multitude of other things in your Sparks feed!

Formatting text in Google+

Easily format the text in your stream by following the steps below:

  • BOLD: Add  * before and after the text.
  • Italic: Add _ before and after the text.
  • Strike : Add before and after the text.

Easy as can be!

Get a Google+ vanity URL

Have you ever looked at your google+ URL?  No offense, but it’s ugly.  Lots and lots of numbers.  More than I care to count.

A vanity URL is much nicer to share with others.  Google Plus is apparently working on its own vanity URL service but in the meantime you can use to make a shortened URL:

Click here to get your Google+ vanity URL!

Looking for seamless Facebook and Twitter integration? You might want to switch to Chrome…

It’s really no surprise that Google’s Chrome Browser is home to some unbelievably great extensions that enhance the Google+ experience.  These 3 are must installs for every Chrome user, and might just convince you to switch from your existing browser:

1. +Comment Toggle: exactly as the name suggests, this Chrome extension allows you to toggle your comments on/off.

Click to install +Comment Toggle

2. Start G+ (Facebook and Twitter Integration):  There are quite a few extensions out there that offer some type of sharing functionality between Facebook/twitter and Google+.  Start G+ is, in my opinion, the best:

    • Start G+ allows you to post updates to Facebook and Twitter directly from Google+.

    • Adds your twitter and Facebook feeds to your Google+ stream. You can choose to view each separately or in your main stream.

    • Let’s you choose what type of notifications you see in Google+.  

    • Adds a Gmail inbox notifier to the top navigation bar for easy Gmail access. 
    • Transfers and syncs all of your Facebook photos to Google+
    • Install by clicking the image below:

Click to install Start G+

3. Usability Boost: this extension tweaks the look of Google+.

    • Formats posts so they stand out from one another.
    • Formats comments so they stand out from the rest of a post.

Click here to install Usability Boost

I have all 3 of these extensions installed and this is a side by side comparison of what looks different.  The changes aren’t anything extraordinary but they definitely make Google+ easier to navigate (click image for a larger view):

Google+ Comparison: Firefox Basic vs. Chrome with Extensions (Click to view full size)


WordPress plugins

There are a multitude of plugins right now that allow a user to add the Google+1 button (think of at is Google’s answer to “Facebook Like”), but few that are related to Google+ itself.

These are both plugins that create a badge that you can display on your sidebar so people will be encouraged to Circle you on Google+:

1.  GoogleCards:   This plugin works by adding a widget to your blog that displays your google+ profile.  It displays your name, profile picture and the number of people who have you in circles.

Sample GoogleCards Widget

2.  Scriptrr Google+ Profile Widget: this is an alternative to the GoogleCards widget above that functions the same way.

Sample Scriptrr Google+ Profile

Creating a personalized Google+ button

Rather than use one of the plugins above I decided to create my own badge.  You can see the end result in my sidebar.

  • Pick the photo you want to use for your Google+ button.
  • Go to and follow the instructions.
  • Upload the image file to your blog.
  • Add this code (with your info, of course):

<a target=”_blank” title=”Circle Me on Google+” href=”http://YOURGOOGLEPLUSACCOUNTLINK”>
<img width=”75″ height=”75″ src=”http://YOURGOOGLEPLUSIMAGELINK”>

  • DONE!

Google+ Social Statistics: Stats and a Google+ Badge that works on ALL sites

Ever wonder where you are ranked in the world of Google+? Google+ Social Statistics will tell you.  Sign-up with your Google+ id and your statistics are at your fingertips!

Bloggers can also download the widget provided by Social Statistics and use it as a badge on their blog if they choose.

Searching for new people/contacts to add:

1. Use the “Find People” search box at the top of Google+:  This allows you to search for people by name or by interest.  Unfortunately Google doesn’t let you add them from the search page; you have to click their profile link to do this.

2.  Use the Find People on Plus website:  this site gives you a lot more flexibility in your searches, so look for that PR contact or find a new blogger or search for someone outside of your Circle!

Hangouts – the group video chat

This is one of the features that Google+ has been lauded for so far.  Truthfully, I haven’t used it so I can’t comment on it.  Anyone care to share their experiences in the comments?


I think there is a lot of potential for Google+ to be beneficial to bloggers, but people need to familiarize themselves with its capabilities before they decide whether its for them or not.  It’s not a passive system – social media means that you have to be social and work at creating conversation.

And, like all social media, Google+ may not be the best fit for you… that is a personal choice.  But I, for one, am enjoying it so far.

I’ve already been introduced to new bloggers, photographers and other professionals through the network and look forward to seeing what the future holds!

What has your experience been so far?

{ 34 comments… add one }

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  • kristy April 13, 2012, 11:27 AM

    B, you have an amazing grasp on this! one day, some day, when i have some time to play with google+, i’m going to use this to help me! =)


  • Kionon August 17, 2011, 12:59 AM

    Excellent post with excellent tips. I’m already a much bigger fan of G+ than I ever was of Facebook. Also, I’m following Wil Wheaton, who aside from being hilarious, is also offering almost daily insight on social networking. His recent posts on the changes to Twitter have been spot on.

  • Cate August 13, 2011, 2:07 AM

    ahh….. still working my way through this. but it’s SO helpful. it’s 2am here though so i may have to continue this later. thanks so much for the comprehensive post. how you figured all this out so quickly is beyond me. superstar B! 🙂

  • Tammy August 12, 2011, 2:19 PM

    I found this post via a Google search and wanted to take a moment and thank you for all the good content here. Your post answered several of my questions, gave me some good resources to follow up on, and was clear and easy to read. You’ve just gained a new reader – thank you!

  • Angeline August 12, 2011, 2:10 PM

    I know I’m wayy late to this post, but I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate this post! So informative and comprehensive. Thanks for sharing your expertise on this!

  • Kimberlee August 9, 2011, 11:24 AM

    Wow this was really well done and helpful! I tried adding my Twitter stream but it’s not appearing. I don’t want to switch to Chrome though. Is it basically useless in Firefox?

  • afashionablelifeforme August 9, 2011, 8:40 AM

    Oh that is just excellent! Im on google + but have barely used it. I’ve just printed your post and am going to teach myself how to use it properly!

  • Jamillah August 3, 2011, 9:35 AM

    B!!!!!! You are THE BEST!!! I keep my blog pretty separate from my real life and so have been wary to start an FB page, BUT I like this…I like this A LOT actually. I saw your call for google + invites and honestly I was not so keen on them because I had not read a post that really indicated how it would be useful for me, but I really love all the social aspects you’ve highlighted and would like to take you up on that offer now…send me an invite por favor, friend.

  • Carolann of Wonderpug Graphics August 3, 2011, 9:08 AM

    Girl, I followed this whole post like a tutorial. I loved this. Loved it. I feel like my G+ is so much more usable now and that is thanks in large part to YOU! Thank you!

  • Kirstin Marie August 2, 2011, 2:59 PM

    AWESOME & super helpful!!! Thank you so much for this post, B!!! <3

  • Fashnlvr August 2, 2011, 12:55 PM

    These are great tips! I haven’t spent alot of time on Google+ yet but in the time I have spent I have discovered some cool stuff I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Like the imwatch!! I am seriously craving this wrist gadget now! I am looking forward to seeing the future developments in Google+ > like auto-blog posting!

  • Heidi/The Closet Coach August 2, 2011, 12:25 PM

    This is a great, thorough guide.

    I have one suggestion, though: instead of using a third-party to create an icon for your blog that links to your Google Profile, you should use Google’s own method for doing so at

    When you use Google’s code, it also demonstrates *authorship*; that is, it tells them that your specific Google Profile is the author of your blog, not anyone else. You can imagine how powerful that is for SEO.

    (I found this out from this great article on Google Plus by B.L. Ochman:

  • Bella Q August 1, 2011, 2:24 PM

    I need to bookmark this post, B. I am overwhelmed by the too many new networks sprouting up- too much for my middle aged brain, I suppose. I can’t even begin to tackle Google +. But when I need to, thanks to you, I will sort of know what I’m doing.

  • Lee Oliveira August 1, 2011, 7:06 AM

    I am obsessed with Chrome.. very helpful.. but this post opened my eyes for lots of things..
    Thanks for sharing hun
    lee x

  • Deb August 1, 2011, 4:06 AM

    Thanks, these are very helpful for getting started. Checking out the plugins and addons now.

  • Jose July 31, 2011, 4:34 PM

    Hi, your post is very complete and useful. I think social media sites are very important for every blogger. If all bloggers learn to leverage power of social sites, their sites will grow quickly 🙂

  • Social Media Connoisseurs July 31, 2011, 10:20 AM

    Thanks so much for the great tips! I loved the plugins that you shared, I have really only installed the reply and share plugin but I will be integrating my twitter & facebook next!

  • GRIT & GLAMOUR July 31, 2011, 9:49 AM

    WOW, this is SUPERB! Totally sharing! Now if I could just find the time to do all this, plus some love for Chrome…

  • Terri July 30, 2011, 8:36 PM

    Whoa, I have needed something like this. Many, many, many thanks!

  • Joanne Faith July 29, 2011, 10:19 PM

    This is a really detailed and SIMPLE guide to Google+ that I can get behind… you’ve officially piqued my interest to log into my account and familiarize myself with WHAT IS GOING ON!

    I think Google+ is going to keep on growing… I appreciate the control over sharing content that I don’t get with either Facebook and Twitter. It’s always what’s prevented me from sharing certain things on either Network.

    I wish I’d seen this before I published my Link’s post for this week but this will definitely be going into the post next week!

  • No Guilt Fashion July 29, 2011, 6:50 PM

    Great post! Trying some of it out now.

  • Alexis of NorthOnHarper July 29, 2011, 2:30 PM

    Just saved this to my desktop so I can really study the info— cause you know I am completely overwhelmed by it!

  • LaCara July 29, 2011, 1:51 PM

    Ohhh B, where I would be without you and your tech savviness?!! Thank you for this, because I am so lost on Google+. Tonight I’m going to use your tutorial to become a Google+ mastermind! 😀


  • Kristin July 29, 2011, 1:35 PM

    How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways…..I had NO idea what I was doing…..Thank you lady!