The Food Blogger’s Guide to Google+

by Irvin on March 12, 2012 · 95 comments

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Recently I was on Twitter (okay, I’m constantly on Twitter, so that’s a ridiculous phrase for me write out) and the topic of Google+ came up. My friend Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen asked if people were using Google+ and nearly every response was “No, can’t be bothered” which is fine EXCEPT that Google+ has a lot of advantages that apparently food bloggers don’t know about. After butting into the conversation (which is what I do in Twitter, I butt in. I highly recommend this methodology by the way) I started to explain why Google+ is worth being on. Then I found myself explaining it over and over again to people who kept on butting into the conversation (the downside of butting in I guess). So I figured I would write a blog post about it. For those looking for my usual witty lighthearted story and recipe, I’ll be back with one on Thursday, but for now, here’s the food blogger’s guide to Google+.

Irvin-Google-plus-homepage

My person homepage on Google+

Why does Google+ even exist?

The reality is that NO ONE really wanted Google+. Had Google done market research, I’m pretty sure there would have been an overwhelming response of “Useless!” “Don’t care!” “Gurl, don’t go there. *finger snap*” (OK, that last one is the stereotypical random gay guy in the focus group…I’m not beyond stereotypes. Heck I’m one myself – google “gaysian” no, no on second thought, don’t). But what I’m trying to say is that Google was stuck creating their own social networking site because if they didn’t have one, they would be behind the times. They tried buying Twitter, but it didn’t work. Facebook has pretty close ties with their competitor Microsoft. And Google once tried to create a social network a few years ago called Orkut except no one joined other than the country of Brazil (I know! Brazil. Weird huh?)

Irvin-Orkut-homepage

If you think no one is on Google+, try Orkut. The silence is deafening.

So Google had a dilemma, and decided, what the heck, let’s create something that no one wants or needs and let’s REALLY throw our weight behind it. Enter Google+. A fully integrated social network within the Google world, that no one (except Google employees) joined, and that no one wanted. But here’s the thing. Even if you aren’t on Google+, you’re already being influenced by it, and so is everyone else on the internet that uses Google (and really, as much as Yahoo and Bing would like otherwise, EVERYONE uses Google). This is important to note because, as a food blogger, you need to know what is influencing the internet – more importantly what is influencing search engine results.

Search Engine Optimization. (I hate that. You do too. I’ll try not to put you to sleep.)

No food blogger likes to talk about Search Engine Optimization (well there, are a few, but they are rare and usually have a day job at a tech company so they speak geek all day long anyway). Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that most food bloggers dread because it’s goes against their natural flow of writing, recipe developing, and taking pretty pictures of macarons then complaining on twitter about how those same macarons pictures were rejected by Foodgawker. Also thinking about SEO takes away from the all important blogging task of spending five hours browsing Pinterest boards, all in the name of “research” (you know who you are). It’s “awkward” and “annoying” to have to think about SEO when writing a post… and you know what? You’re right. It is. But it’s not hard to do. And the better you get at it, the more likely you’ll show up in search engine results. The more likely you show up on a search engine, the more likely someone will click through to your macaron post on your site, and the more likely they’ll fall in love with you and your gorgeous photography and BAM you have a loyal reader (take that Foodgawker!).

Irvin-Pinterest

Those five hours on pinterest were totally tax deductible right? All about research.

If I had a dollar for every single time I was asked “How do I get traffic to my site?”… I’d probably have five dollars (which is more than I probably would make if I put a Foodbuzz ad on here, but that’s neither here nor there). Everyone wants traffic. No one  knows how to get it. You can write beautiful, thought-provoking prose, take gorgeous breathtaking photographs, and create mouthwatering “to-die-for” recipes (side note, if you actually write “to-die-for” in your blog post then you aren’t really writing beautiful thought provoking prose so avoid that phrase) but if no one can find you, well no one is going to read.

Now the big bloggers probably don’t worry about SEO. They already have the traffic. I know, it’s unfair, sort of like when the celebrity actor walks into a restaurant or clothing store and get a ton of free stuff. I mean, they’re the people that can afford to buy the crazy $95 entrée and $350 t-shirt but because they famous they get it for free (note to self, become famous as soon as possible). But the rest of us, are left scrounging about and trying to figure out how to get people to visit our site. And since we constantly get rejected from Foodgawker (I don’t mean to pick on Foodgawker, I get rejected from Tastespotting all the time too – I shake my fist at both of you!), no matter how beautiful our photography is, we are left trying to figure out how else to drum up traffic.

Gingerbread-Toaster-Oven-Pear-Bourbon-Filled-Pop-Tart-Pastry-Eat-The-Love-Irvin-Lin-500x500

It was rejected from Foodgawker too. Sigh.

Enter SEO. Now I can probably go on and on about SEO…and I’m not even a tech geek. People make a (really) good living consulting, discussing and dissecting how to improve SEO on sites, and maybe I’ll write another post about how to improve SEO overall. But I will tell you being on Google+ helps with SEO (a lot), and most of it is pretty easy to implement.

Sharing a URL on Google+ automatically gets it indexed and crawled by Google. Google+ is so integrated into the search engine, that the minute you share a link, Google’s engine sees it, and thinks “Huh. Wonder what’s on that link” and then goes to it and crawls through it, looking for searchable keywords and terms. In other words, if you write a post about banana rum jello shots set in vintage 1950s copper moulds (God bless you) you don’t have to wait a day or two for Google to come around and check out your site to see if you had posted anything. Nope, you post something and the minute you  share it Google+, that post is indexed and if five minutes later a college frat boy decides he wants to make banana rum shots and types in those keywords, conceivably your recipe will show up. Bam! You got traffic. This is especially important for those of you who post infrequently (which, by the way, for SEO purposes is really bad) or have a blog under a year old. The longer your blog is around or the more consistent you post, the more Google considers you a reliable source of information, and will visit your blog to index it. Posting on Google+ takes the guess work out of when Google is indexing your site, and gives you a level of control that previously didn’t exist.

Irvin-fratboys

These could be potential new readers of your blog! (photo courtesy of Alec Joseph Bates Photography)

An additional perks of being on Google+ also means you can claim your website as your own. What does that mean? Ever done a search and seen a picture of the author of that article that comes on a website? That’s because the person has set up an authorship of their site. It’s not hard to do, though it does require a little bit of coding. But what it means is that every time someone does a search and your blog posts comes up in the results, your picture shows up as the author. It’s a great way to leverage your name out there as a brand and expert. Show up enough times on someone’s search results and that person might start noticing you and suddenly you have a loyal reader. More importantly, it tells Google there is an actual person behind your site, and it’s not just a junk or scraper site trying to snare traffic & spam people. The more Google thinks you are a real person and not a bot or spammer just looking for high traffic, the more it will take your site seriously and bring your blog higher up in the search results.

search-authorship

See how it says "by Irvin Lin" and a link to "More by Irvin Lin"... you want this.

But one of the most important things to consider about Google+ is that more and more people are searching on Google while logged into Google. Whether you’re logged in via gmail, youtube, google+, google docs or any other myriad Google sub-brands, Google recognizes you as logged in, and when you do a search, they deliver results based on who you are and what your contacts are. This is called “personalized search results” and it is becoming more and more common. It’s why when you do a search for “farmers markets” Google knows who you are, and can return results of farmers market locations that are in your area, before it returns locations of farmers markets in a different cities or countries. Consider this example. Search for “krispie treats” while not signed in, leads to various recipes out there by sites like Recipe Girl, Joy of Baking and All Recipe. However if my partner AJ logs into his gmail to check his email, and doesn’t bother to log out but then searches for “krispie treats”, my recipe suddenly appears in the number three result as “Irvin Lin shared this”. Nifty huh?

irvin-shared-this

You want to share this with as many people as possible.

The implications of this pretty big. Considering how many people search while logged. All of sudden this becomes a big deal. If you are connected to large groups of people, the chances of showing up on their search results is significantly higher. Immediately you have a better chance of getting traffic from a search result that normally wouldn’t give you any traffic at all. With more and more people logged in to their google accounts (inadvertently or not) it’s becoming clear that you should be connected to as many people as possible so that you can show up on their search results. Of course the converse is true, if you aren’t in their circle, you have a lower chance of showing up on personalized search results as they are personalized and tailored by individuals tastes. Do keep in mind, this is a simplification of personalized search results, as there are many factors, but who shares what in Google+ is one of those factors.

I’m still not convinced. I don’t care about SEO. Gimme another reason to get on Google+

A lot of complaints that I hear about Google+ is that everyone on there is pretty much the same people that you can find on Twitter or Facebook, you know except less active because no one bothers to use Google+. That’s because you’re following the wrong people. If all you are doing is following food bloggers on Google+, then you’re right, they’re the same food bloggers on Twitter and Facebook and they are most likely more active on either of those network than G+, and you’ll probably see a lot of duplicate posts. But what if you could reach out to an audience beyond the food blogging community and that is completely supportive of your work and can even help inspire your work?

jennCuisine

Jenn Oliver of Jenn Cuisine on Google+

I asked my friend Jenn over at Jenn Cuisine about her experiences on Google+. Jenn got onto Google+ super early and currently has over 16,000 followers. In other words, she’s a rockstar on Google+. Here’s what she had to say.

“I joined G+ pretty much as soon as I was able to – a photographer I follow, Trey Ratcliff, got one of the first invites to the service and set up his Facebook page as a place for people to share their invites – so I joined the invite “snowball” event and found myself with a brand new shiny account on Google+.

I instantly fell in love with this new social media network.  Unlike Twitter and Facebook wherein I primarily had interacted with other food bloggers, Google+ showed me a whole new world of other people, who had other interests as well. I found photographers, techies, scientists, and others, and just started getting to know new folks and building new relationships.  I love being able to share my work with new people, get great feedback, and enjoy the nice pretty format of G+ photos.  I feel I can follow conversations with much more fluidity than I can on Twitter (which also allows for more in-depth conversation all around), and I love that not everything has to be out in the public for the entire world to see.   I got to participate a lovely photowalk in the Swiss Alps with some newfound friends from G+, and had a great time.  The more I share and the more I interact, the more new friends I make.

And as a result, the followers have kept coming. I love both sharing my passion for food photography as well as seeing some amazing talent by other folks from around the world.  But like any network, what you get out of it is related to what you put into it.  If you go and sign up and say, “hey none of my friends are here, this is pointless”, well then I think one is kind of missing the point.  What value is there in talking with the same exact people on multiple platforms at once? Likewise, it doesn’t work if you only talk with yourself.  You need to join in with others, interact.  I use Google+ to build new connections to people I might not have met otherwise, and I think that has been part of why it has been so valuable for me.   If you join, don’t be afraid to reach out to brand new people, and share your work in this new venue.  Jump into conversations, make new friends, and connect :)”

Though the tech and science people were the first people to jump on board to Google+ the photography community wasn’t far behind as Jenn mentioned. Sharing photos on Google+ is super easy, and unlike Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter’s, your metadata isn’t stripped out of the photo. What does that mean? It means that if someone downloads a photograph via Facebook, any information that is written in the metadata (the hidden data in the file that usually gives you credit and creation for that photo) is removed, leaving that image completely blank. Google+ leaves that data in there. All of sudden photosharing on Google+ becomes not only a fun social experience, but virtual learning tool where you can explore how someone took a photo.

metadata

The metadata that is displayed in Google+. You can learn a lot just by checking photos' metadata.

Google’s editing and storage app Picasa is integrated into Google+, which means that basic editing tools like cropping, rotating, and even color adjustment are available directly in Google+. More importantly though (as every food blogger worth their Maldon salt does a little bit of post-process photo editing in Lightroom, Photoshop/Photoshop Elements or even GIMP/iPhoto) Google+ doesn’t compress the heck out of your photos. You know when you upload a beautiful photo in Facebook, and then you look at it and the colors look muddy, with weird pixilated squares in the image? That’s called compression artifacts and Facebook does that automatically with ALL photos that are uploaded to them. That doesn’t happen in Google+.

picasa-engine-in-google-plus

Google's photo program Picasa is integrated into Google+ giving you some built-in editing features.

Clickable hashtags are one more seemingly minor feature of Google+, but has become integral in photography community building. The ability to create clickable hashtags has developed into unofficial photo groups where people contribute to photos on topics. #FoodFriday has become a big one, where people upload a picture of food on Friday, with that specific hashtag and others can browse and find inspiration. But contributing to other photo hashtags can broaden your scope of followers and also inspire you to start taking photographs of things more than just food. The more you exercise your visual skills on all sorts of subject matters, the better you become as a photographer. Coupled with the social aspect of Google+ like commenting, hangouts (which are group live video chats) and clickable hashtags like Twitter, it’s no wonder why there seems to be a robust photography community.

Fine, I’ll start using Google+ more. Now what do I do?

OK, so I’ve convinced you to join and use Google+. How does it work? There are plenty of more in-depth guides on getting started on Google+ and so I’ll only give you a shortened version of how to get started (I’ve listed a bunch of resources at the end of this posts for you to look through) but consider it a bit of a mashup of Twitter and Facebook. The “feed” of the Google+ is much like you would find on Facebook or Twitter, where the items that people are sharing pop up on your stream in live time. But the real question is how to find to follow and get people to follow you.

Probably the easiest thing to do is to bounce to someone’s Google+ page that you like, and start browsing through that person’s list of friends. Like Twitter, you can bounce from personal page to personal page, see who’s feed you like and what they are sharing, and then add them as a friend. Another method is to click on hashtags such as “Food Friday” see what photos people are sharing and then explore their stream. If you like what they share, follow them as well.

DailyPhotoThemesOnGooglePlus

Daily Photography Themes page lists all the photo hashtags like #FoodFridays or #MacroMondays

Like Twitter, Google+ doesn’t require reciprocation circling, so do not feel like you have to follow people that follow you back. In fact, I’d warn you about being selective about circling random people in the beginning. At the very least, create a specific circle for people you aren’t familiar with, and slowly sort them as you get to know them into more specific circles or uncircle them as you find out that you have no interest in them. Like all the other social networking sites, the more you share and interact with the people on the network, the more you’ll get out of it though.

One last thing

Finally something needs to be said about time management. As much as I tout how important it is to get on Google+ I’m not on it very often. Why? Most food bloggers (myself included) don’t blog full time. That means, we’re juggling our day jobs along with developing recipes, writing blogs posts, painting and artfully distressing wood as a surface texture, and taking photos as well as trying to get food on the table for our family. We barely have time to do Twitter or Facebook much less the other networks like Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon. One more network like Google+ feels like just ONE. MORE. THING to do. However every blogger needs to know the pros and cons of each network. Ultimately you also need to draw your own lines and realize that you can’t do EVERYTHING. If Facebook is the only network you have time for, then use it. If you resonate with Twitter more, than use it. But you should be aware of the differences and the values of each network, so you can make an informed choice about them. Hopefully this posts is helpful in explaining why Google+ might be something worth exploring.

Resources and Links:

How to set up authorship on Google+, the simplified way
Mashable Complete Guide to Google+
Google Official Guide to Google+
Another comprehensive guide to Google+
Colby Brown’s Google+ Survival Guide for Photographers - warning SUPER long and in-depth
Daily Photography Themes homepage
A list of food bloggers on Google+
A list of food photographers on Google+
Jenn Oliver of Jenn Cuisine on Google+
Irvin Lin of Eat the Love on Google +

If you have any questions, points or other resource links I’ve missed (or got somehow got wrong), please leave a comment below. Google+ is still a relatively new network, and as such, it’s evolving. Because it has the weight of Google behind it, trust Google+ to continue to get more and more important.

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Connect with Irvin via Social Media

You can connect with Irvin on a more direct level via his twitter page, his facebook fan page or his page. Just be forewarned that he tweets a heck of a lot.

{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

jaime March 12, 2012 at 5:27 am

Really interesting. I constantly feel like as a food blogger I have a new network to join and new ropes to learn. It’s cool to get the pros and cons of each… I am constantly trying to figure out what is worth my time and what is not.

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I truly feel that if there is one or two networks that resonate with you, then go with those. I’m more of a Twitter person myself, so I’m on it way more than the other networks.

But I also think it’s good to know what the pros and cons are of all the networks, so you can educationally pick and choose what works best for what you are looking for. That said, no one can do ALL of them, all the time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day…

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Casey@Good. Food. Stories. March 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

So, o wise and all-knowing techie, what’s the point in setting up a page for our site on Google+, then? More juice for sharing links? (And can I have an assistant to send all this stuff out through various social media channels? I just want to cook and write!)

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Ahhh… Good question. A brand page functions much like a brand page on Facebook. The difference is that on FB, most people had a personal page for real life friends long before they opted to start a brand page for their blog.

I personally view my FB Eat the Love page as an extension of my blog, while my personal page on FB is for my friends. In other words, I don’t bother to promote and talk about food stuff as much on my personal page as I do on my FB page as I don’t want to bore my friends with “Carrot Cake Marshmallow blog post!” updates.

With Google+, everyone is starting from scratch, so it’s up to you how you want to use it. I have a G+ brand page for Eat the Love, but rarely use it, as I prefer to connect with people on a more personal level. For me, Google+ is a chance to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally be my audience (non-food bloggers, photographers, etc.) and I have found from a personal experience that those people prefer circling and interacting with a perceived person, not a brand, especially one as unknown as Eat the Love.

But I can see the other side as well, and building up a brand page and outreaching that way to other brands and people. You would have to be more pro-active about it though, circling others and doing a lot of upfront interactive commenting and communication to get those people to know who you are through your brand page. I just didn’t go that route (and, in truth, Google+ didn’t have brand pages when I joined).

Also – if you find a good assistant send them my way. I can pay that person in cookies and brownies, with an occasional layer cake or pie if they are able to get my posts to stumble really well.

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Jenn March 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

My experience is similar to Irvin’s – on Facebook I have things clearly separated between my blog’s page and my own personal page, but on Google+ I actually decided not to make a brand page, and instead use my “personal” page for everything – since I can set who I want to interact with for each post, it makes it very simple for me to choose what is public and what is just for friends :)

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

That’s TOTALLY a good point that Jenn mentioned, and that I only touched on in my post above. One of the great things about Google+ is you can target and share things to specific audiences and circles. Instead of just sharing it with the “public” you can share it with specific circles (or even specific individuals – this is how you send private messages on G+, you just share something with one individual). It’s another way for you to use our personal page as a “food blogger” page as well.

Of course, the other side of the coin, is that Jenn already had 8 to 10,000 friends on G+ when they implemented the brand pages. It would have been foolish for her to start from scratch again with a brand page.

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Kelly March 12, 2012 at 7:21 am

Very interesting take on Google+, I joined not too long ago just to see what it’s all about, it wasn’t until I started making comments on random posts, and joining/following circles I typically would of just passed that I started to see more traffic. I’m a rookie in the blogger world, and it appears google+ is just one more tool to help boost me up to the next level. Thanks for the post!

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Brittany March 12, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks for sharing! I had no idea Google+ could be so useful. I will definitely be checking it out now.

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Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen March 12, 2012 at 10:59 am

Thank you so much for this post. I signed up for Google+ a long time ago, and have barely used it at all. While I certainly can’t see it replacing Twitter or Facebook for interacting with other bloggers, I had no idea of its potential to help promote my blog (which sadly, usually ends up somewhere on page 10 of search results…)

I think I need to go on there and start figuring things out this afternoon…

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Kasey March 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

Wow, I honestly don’t think much about Google + (much like a lot of the people who were probably scratching their heads upon reading the title of your post). But I definitely know that anything Google does, it’s probably related to SEO, so of course it makes SENSE to care! Even though most of us don’t really want to be writing posts about SEO, I have to agree that some really fantastic blogs and posts are undiscovered because they’re not properly indexed by Google, and there are small steps that every blogger can take to make their awesome site more discoverable. On a sidenote, I love that mentioned being rejected by Foodgawker and Tastespotting and bitching about. I hate the ‘low light’ or ‘bad composition’ feedback. It’s all so subjective. I think they do it to keep us chattering and throwing our fists in the air. Thanks for taking the time to share this knowledge!

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Irvin March 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The Foodgawker/Tastespotting comments were really just throw away comments to add a little humor to what really is a dry topic, but it’s funny how it resonated with so many people! I actually rarely submit my work there anymore. I’ve come to the realization that they have a specific look and aesthetic that doesn’t always match with mine. On top of that, I rarely frame my pictures for a square format. It’s just not worth the trouble for me anymore…

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Jay @ LocalFood.me March 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I agree! What’s with that “lighting/composition” nonsense? I actually found myself trying to shoot photos that I thought they (or anyone for that matter) would like, and then quickly remembered that it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

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Jay @ LocalFood.me March 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

However, I love looking at those sites. Really beautiful work, great inspiration and ideas.

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Renee March 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

And all this time I was sharing my blog (food, wine, gardening) on G+ and had no idea of the full benefits. Cool. Thanks for such great information.

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Tracey March 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

This post is fantastic, thanks so much for sharing. I joined Google+ a while ago but basically haven’t done anything with it since because, like you said, it just seemed like another thing to do. I didn’t realize all of the benefits though, definitely food for thought!

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merri March 12, 2012 at 11:54 am

interesting. i’m just a regular blogger, not a food one (after that restaurant blog failed..tho i do post about food too) but i did make a page on google + for my blog. altho i have a bunch of google + friends, about 3, including you, ever use it. i keep posting my blogs up there, but not much else. also, i get free seo optimization through my host monster subscription, which I dunno is doing anything for my blog, but it might be! :)

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Gerry @ Foodness Gracious March 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm

What an awesome blog post. I am on G+ but still can’t get my teeth quite into it. I’m going to read your post another couple of times to get the full benefit from it but thanks for taking the time to help others figure this one out…
Take care..

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Jenn March 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Thanks so much Irvin for this post, and letting me share a bit about my experience – even I, who’ve been using Google+ from almost the start, learned something new by your post!

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Ha! And thank you for contributing to it! Now send some of your followers on Google+ my way…. ;)

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Ricki March 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Thanks so much for posting this, Irvin! And WOW is this ever great information. Thanks to you, I just posted my first Google+ update in. . .well, a long time. Now for all the other stuff! :)

And really, I cannot BELIEVE that Foodgawker didn’t accept that photo! ;-)

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Cassie March 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

This is a wonderfully-written post, thank you so much for the time and effort that you put into it. I definitely learned a lot. Up until now, I have been a casual Google+ user but I am going to take some of these tips and use them wisely. Thanks much!

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Liren March 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Irvin, you rock. I’m one of those peripheral G+ users, I log on once in a blue moon, or basically, whenever someone adds me to a circle. Thanks for giving me lots to consider, and thanks for the good chuckles along the way.

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veggiemama March 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm

ok, you’ve convinced me! Off to revive my sad little page now. I get about five new followers a day on that place and I’m all like “meh”… think of the untapped reader resource, haha!

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Adina | Gluten Free Travelette March 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Thanks for this great post. I got an early account on Google+ as well but was looking at it from the standpoint of personal use with real life friends and family. I found the privacy controls very confusing and ended up deleting my account because I couldn’t find any support to keep information I posted limited to those that I choose.
Looking at it from a blogging standpoint I can see the benefits and will definitely investigate further. At this point my only social media arm has been twitter as I’m not sure I want to create a “page” for my blog. Perhaps Google+ will be where I look for another social media arm…

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Adrian J.S. Hale March 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thank you, Irvin! This was so helpful that I can cancel one of my sessions at IACP this year. I have to admit, one of my favorite parts was at the end of the piece where you explain the life of a food blogger. Oh, to have a colleague who understands! Thank you, again, for taking the time to post this for your fellow bloggers. I’m off to claim authorship…
Have a great day,
Adrian

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Bryan, YiRan, and Herbie March 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

This is a great post, and there’s definitely a lot to be said about the awesome conversations that you can have with all sorts of new people on Google+. That’s been one of my favorite parts of using the platform.

However, I’m pretty sure that what Irvin’s said about the posts being indexed automagically is not correct. Yes it’s true that if you post your link and then go search for it at google.com, you’ll see it. That’s because of the personalized search results though. This is still important, because as Irvin pointed out, personalized search is becoming more and more important. But, in terms of getting the page indexed by the general search index more quickly, so that a signed-out user querying your recipe would see it, that indexing process is still the same.

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Actually the automagically indexing from sharing a URL on Google+ information came from Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz. He tweeted about it on March 5th 2012: “So… Is it common knowledge that sharing a URL on G+ gets it (nearly) instantly crawled+indexed?” and since he’s one of the big experts on SEO I figured it was correct.

That said, I did verify that this particular blog post was indexed and appeared in search results for “google+ guide food blogger” today using an Google Chrome Incognito Window, which automatically signs you out of Google. Whether this happened organically because it’s been shared a lot on Twitter, or because I shared it on Google+ I can’t be sure.

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mike @ TheCulinaryLens March 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

WOW so much to take on board. I am on Google+ but do not use it nearly enough but I do always share a new post. And now I know why I am being indexed so much faster.
Now I have to get to work at expanding my network there. Thank you for this

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Detective Chow March 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Wow, what an interesting post. And funny, too. Signed up for G+ a while back, when it was touted as eplacing FB, but haven’t had much to do with it since. Might have to delve a little deeper now.

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I would never say that Google+ is a replacement for Facebook. Just as Twitter is not a replacement for Facebook, Google+ has it’s own set of benefits and issues. The trouble is trying to figure out how to carve out a space for all three.

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Nicola @41feasts March 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Echoing previous comments – wow! Thank you for this huge amount of information Irvin, I really appreciate the time you must have put into this post. Although I have spent the last hour successfully sorting out authorship (via a sneaky plugin) rather than taking the bath I’d promised myself. Ah well, unclean but authored and G+ updated – such is the life of a food blogger!

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gretchen March 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm

other than the fact that my head hurts a little now, i’m really glad that i read this. thanks for posting your tips and experience. i am convinced! (and you should be in sales.) oh, and we miss you over at the gfrr… come back, irvin. come back.

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I’m going to try to contribute to the April one! I miss it too. I’ve just been so crazy busy lately…

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spiceblogger March 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

This article was very helpful. I’ve been wavering about G+ for a while now. It just seems like one more thing to try to work into my already over-scheduled schedule. I like the way you broke it down. It seems there is value there, and maybe I should try to reach out to new circles.

You also made me laugh :) Thanks for that!

–shelley

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Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well March 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Awesome post, Irvin! I’m one of those that is on G+ in name only, because it just doesn’t appeal to me and seems like… one. more. thing to do. ;) You’ve made some valid arguments for it, though, so I’ll have to revisit it soon. The techie meta data stuff seems a little daunting, but I’ll give it a try!

PS – While I empathize with the frustrations in dealing with Tastespotting, FG, etc. (though I absolutely REFUSE to deal with FG), it makes me feel a wee bit better that even awesome photographers like you get denied every once in a while. I have no idea WHY they would reject your photos, as they’re so beautiful it hurts! But at least we can say that it’s not us – it’s them. ;)

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Irvin March 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Ha! I actually threw in the Tastespotting/Foodgawker jabs as a humorous asides. I didn’t mean to sound as bitter about it as I may have come across. I rarely, if ever, submit stuff to either nowadays, as I just don’t have time, and I prefer to have my traffic come from more organic sources, and I never really feel like that sort of traffic is sticky.

But every now and then something reminds me about TS/FG and I submit again, and then get rejected. I pretty much have come to the conclusion that I have a very different sensibility and aesthetic from them. So be it.

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Madame Fromage March 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm

At last, useful insight into Google+. Merci for that. You’ve earned a new fan — when I’m not distressing wood, photo-cropping, hashtagging on Twitter, or lurking on FB. :-}

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Claudie March 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Let me begin by saying that your intro paragraph is hilarious :-) I loved it, especially since I constantly have a discussion on the topic G+ vs all-the-other-already-popular-social-networks with some of my friends (or particularly one of them).
And now let me continue with: thank you! I think you’ve provided an amazing amount of information on G+! Sure, I’ll admit, while I’m technically on it, I haven’t created a page for neither of my blogs (though after your post I think that’ll be done by tomorrow night!), but as you’ve said, it’s a must to keep up with those sorts of things. Even if we’d rather take pics of (or eat) macarons. Speaking of which, I’d better go back to my oven ;-)

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Jonathan March 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Very good information to have. Like you said, SEO *shouldn’t* be our main objective, and it’s usually not. But it’s definitely there in the background, with every punctuation mark and every photo-edit. I have a pretty lifeless G+ account, but seeing as how in the last two months my traffic has increased hugely due to Instagram and Pinterest (and not Tastespotting or Foodgawker), it probably wouldn’t hurt to reach out to another audience. Thanks for this, Irvin. :)

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Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are} March 13, 2012 at 4:03 am

Wow. There is so much information here. Thank you. I had sort of written off Google+ as yet another time-sucker, but it’s looking like it’s worth it. And I agree about FG and TS, as I’m sure every food blogger does – so frustrating!! Thanks again for the great info!

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Dominic March 13, 2012 at 4:19 am

well, I was lying in bed last night thinking about google+ (I know… of all the things…) and I was thinking I REALLY need to do something about it and this article has really helped, so thank you!… as you mention here, it does feel like yet another thing we have to do… sometimes I feel like blogging has become hard work and not the fun food stuff I started out doing but like you say, we all want more traffic, whatever we say… i’m off to build my profile… I may be back to ask more questions!

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Jessica @ bake me away! March 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

One more reason: I think many (myself included) lacking photo-editing software use Picnik and it’s moving to Google+ on April 19. Not sure if it’s replacing Picasa, but in their words: “Picnik is moving its easy yet powerful photo editing tools to Google+.” I’ve been bummed about this, but now it seems like a good thing!

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Irvin March 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I know a lot of people that were upset about the move of Picnik, but I think the tighter integration into Google+ is yet another example of how Google wants EVERYONE to be using G+ (for good or for bad).

That said, you might want to give Photoshop Express over on the Adobe site. It’s a free lightweight photo editor that has some robust editing features. I’ve actually thinking of writing a post on post-processing digital photography, workflow, as well as inexpensive options like Picnik, Adobe Express and GIMP, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. One of these days.

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Jessica @ bake me away! March 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Thanks for the tip! I’ll look forward to that post after you get around to it. :)

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Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen March 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

I have beeen slowly dipping my toes in the pool of Google+ but still feel like I’m drowning in confusion. I’m sharing blog posts and +1 other articles that I like but I haven’t really connected with anyone over there. Going to keep on keeping on. Le sigh.

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Irvin March 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Like all social networks, it’s hard to just “dip your toes” into it and get much out of it. Twitter is built for conversations, not just broadcasting information (though that works for some top level blogs and brands), while Facebook actually works a little better for broadcasting and more in-depth conversations that the 140 character restrictions of Twitter doesn’t allow.

Google+ people seem to resonate more when you participate with hashtag photo groups, share personal photos and adding comments to other people’s posts, than just +1 or sharing blog posts. At least in the beginning when they don’t know you. Like all social networks, interaction is key and I would recommend striking up conversations with people you find interesting by just commenting on their photos or updates. Once a relationship has been established, you’ll probably find a warmer reception to the broadcasting of information like blog posts and articles.

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Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen March 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

Thanks Irvin. You are so right. I failed at my first attempt at Twitter a few years ago. I hated it. Now however I can’t imagine a day without checking in there and I’ve made some truly close friends that I’ve never met. I once heard a cheesy quote that said, “Facebook is friendships that lead to conversations. Twitter is conversations that lead to friendships.” Cheesiness aside it is true. I’ll find my place in the Google + world in time I’m sure. Thanks again for the great article.

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Brian March 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Great post! As a new blogger I am often overwhelmed by everything I have to do just to try and get a few readers, it often feels like a second job! Now I have one more things to learn!

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Irvin March 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm

It really can be a second job and, as a new blogger, it can all be overwhelming. As I said in the last paragraph, don’t feel like you have to do EVERYTHING. No one can do it all, especially when most of us have lives outside of our blog.

My advice for new bloggers is (and always will be) to just keep blogging away and find one or two social network sites that resonate with them and use those. For me, initially it was Twitter with Facebook a second, Google+ a distant third. Blogging (especially after the initial novelty and honeymoon period wears off) is hard, though rewarding, work. Most people stop blogging after 9 months because of it. Don’t burn yourself out by stretching yourself thin with a million social networking. Just keep blogging away. The rest will come naturally as you get comfortable with what you are doing.

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Brian @ A Thought For Food March 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm

HAHAHA! You did it! Actually, this is a really fabulous post and I know people will get a lot out of it! Thanks for converting me!

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Irvin March 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I was actually secretly working on this post the entire trip, when everyone else went to bed! It took me the entire trip AND staying up to 3am on Sunday to finish it. How’s that for sad?

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Devaki @ weavethousandflavors March 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Wow! Irvin WHAT AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE! I love that you took the time to explain to those of us who are just getting our big toe wet into the Google+ pool, the advantage of taking the plunge! And you did it with awesome hilarity :))

Am off to google+ my hiney off.

chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Thanks so much for this – as you can see, you certainly hit a nerve and created a lot of chatter yourself! I’ll definitely try to get more into it – I joined last summer but sadly my G+ is very neglected. Thanks for the push.

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Aggie March 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Ive dabbled w G+ a bit then kind of let it fall by the wayside. I appreciate the differences in all the social media platforms, wish I had more time to “play” with them. This is such an informative & insightful post! I didn’t know about the hash tags, will now keep my eye out for them. Thanks for the time you put into explaining this!

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Maree March 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Great post,

lots of really interesting things that I didn’t know.
I just jumped on my long dormant google+ account, made some new friends, got some life advice from Jackie Chan and posted a link to my latest book review.
Here’s hoping it works.

Thanks heaps!

Maree

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Kathy - Panini Happy March 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm

OK, you’ve convinced me!! :-) I’ve had my Google+ account for a while but I haven’t really touched it in months for a lot of the reasons you mentioned – same folks as on Twitter and Facebook, repetitive updates, nothing interesting. But the SEO benefits are compelling. And I do like the ability to direct messages to relevant groups, rather than broadcast to everyone who may be following me. Guess I’ll have to reopen this one. Thanks for the good info, Irvin!

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Irvin March 14, 2012 at 12:05 am

I actually think the directing messages to relevant groups is a huge pro for Google+. Because you are forced to add people to circles when you friend them, you automatically put them into categories to begin with. Which makes it so much easier to send messages and updates to those specific targeted people.

Facebook has that ability when you making “lists” of types of friends, but no one really makes lists on FB (at least not that I know of). It’s an added step, while in G+ it’s part of the built in structure.

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Joanne March 13, 2012 at 11:33 pm

This was a really fabulously written article, thanks so much for writing it up. It’s 2:30am (don’t ask me why I’m up) but I bookmarked this for tomorrow and am going to click through some of those links. Btw your style of writing is really entertaining and funny. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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Caitlin March 13, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I am so glad you wrote this. I’ve been wondering, not just for blogging purposes, why to use Google+ for quite a while now. I have one but I’m not very active with it because (as you said) Twitter and Facebook have most of my connections anyway. It’s good to know there are actual reasons to use G+ and I will definitely put it much farther up on my to-do list.

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Joan Nova March 14, 2012 at 6:03 am

Wow…I learned so much from this post. I, too, wasn’t really getting google+ and viewed it as just another website plus I hate that so many ppl without any mutual interest or fleshed out bios reach out to be friends. Really? When I got to their pages, there’s oft times nothing there. I guess it’s just number building.

There’s so much info here, I know I have to read it again and perhaps another time but, for now, I’m off to check out the hashtags which I didn’t know exisited. And to give you a +1!!

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Lora March 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

This is wonderful info. thanks!

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Sandra ~ Sweet Sensations March 15, 2012 at 8:28 am

OK, you got me. I will mosey on over to Google + and expand my circles. Your SEO explanation was on point and one of the best I’ve heard/seen. Love your style and thanks so much for the enlightenment. I’ll be looking for you on Google+ also.

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Paula March 15, 2012 at 8:48 am

We are on our way out the door to take our grand-daughter to lunch. I saw a tweet about this post and so I came here. I will be back to read it in more depth but for now, thank you for this information and all the links. I’m not on Facebook nor Pinterest but I did join Google + awhile ago but am only now beginning to really use it. I know when I read this fully, I will be very grateful for all the information you took the time to post here so again, in advance, thank you!

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Heather @midnitechef March 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Thank you for writing this post. I’ve been on G+ for a while, only because I had to create an account for Youtube and it’s now through G+. Anyways, I never thought that G+ would help with SEO (and the grappling towards famousness). It’s rare that I explore other blog networks (Blogger, Tumblr…) as I usually stick to Wordpress (Freshly Pressed and blogs I follow). It’s for sure a time-suck to hop around everywhere, friending, liking, following, circling all these possible target audiences, then crossing your fingers something will stick. The whole life-online concept has been eaten up by the generations that followed us (1990+), while we can adjust and learn as it grows, but our parents are stuggling (some less than most I’m sure). Do I want a bunch of 16-yr olds following my blog? Not really. But their foot prints on the internet help rank our sites higher in the Google slots so that the elders can find us easily (my parents had no idea there were multiple pages of search results for years!) Ranting done, I think.
Seriously, this will have me go back and look closer at Google+ and what G+ can do for me.

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Kristen @ Life as an Americanadian March 16, 2012 at 1:03 am

Great post- thanks for all the info! I’m not a food blogger but was wondering why Google was pushing Google+ so much…glad to know there are some cool features.

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sarah March 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

Awesome info! Thank you very much for bringing the tech to the tech challenged!

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Kita March 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thank you for this post from top to bottom. Followed it from a link from Dennis. Laughed out loud (at work) and nodded in agreement with your comment about making $5 more than Foodbuzz :D Plus, this was packed with awesome info. I just checked and there are a few Wordpress plugins for Authoriship if any one may not be savvy enough to do the code.

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Jessica | Oh Cake March 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

One of the members of the Food Blogger Network suggested this article and it’s a great read – thanks for sharing it. Love your writing style and must now streamline my google+ page. 2 more hours til dinner… I can make this work!

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Jameson Fink March 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm

If there is a better guide to Google+ that answers all the questions bloggers have about it, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it. Clear, thoughtful, and addresses how and why to overcome our inherent weariness over another social media channel to monitor, engage with, and populate with content. Bravo and thank you.

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Ashley Bartner March 18, 2012 at 7:39 am

Fantastic post! Thank you so much for breaking it all down & with such a great sense of humor. This is the first time I’ve visited your blog & will be back for sure – I love your writing & photos!

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Bunkycooks March 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm

As you know, so much to do and so little time! Thanks for the Google+ instruction. I am signed up, but have not really used it because it is definitely one more thing to do! Maybe this is worth looking into if it is every so slightly different from all the other social media.

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Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Extremely inciteful and entertaining! I have not used Google+ a huge amount but trying to edge my way in there more often. I like that I can share stuff direct from Google reader on there and hadn’t been aware of the other advantages you’ve outlined. You got yourself a new subscriber!

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JulieD March 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Were your ears burning this weekend? :) Thanks again for sharing this! I meant to comment when I first read it…I have had the feeling for a while that Google+ will be very important to us, just no time to do more than create my profile & a profile for my blog. Thanks for all of the great insight and cheat sheet! :)

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Krista March 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I love that you wrote this post! Juggling all of the social networks is just insane. I have found some success on Google+ and I am finally getting the hang of it. The one thing I never thought of was the connection to SEO and searches which makes sharing on Google+ invaluable.

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mia sanchez-pellot March 28, 2012 at 7:43 am

Irvin~ Thank you very much for posting this information. It has really opened up my eyes to a lot of pointers that I was overlooking as not being needed. I made sure to read this a few times just to make sure I didn’t miss any valuable points.
As a fellow blogger and foodie, this post has immediately become my personal guide for working google+ ( it will soon become my beach , if you catch my drift!)

Again, thank you for sharing this valuable info as well as all the additional resources =)

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Choclette March 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Thank you Irvin, really useful post. I’d heard it would be good to join Google+ but then got put off when I actually tried it and didn’t persist as it is ONE MORE THING TO DO. But I think you might have persuaded me to give it another go.

All made much easier to read by your humorous style too.

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anneliesz April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Ah, so much new-to-me. I’m already a fan of Google+ but glad to hear your thoughts.

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blender dude June 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

Very comprehensive. From this newbie to Google+, thanks for taking the time to write this!

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Karen Robertson June 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

You might just have a new career in the making of social media consultant!!
Thank you

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Alanna Kellogg June 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Hi Irvin, So I am one of the many who “don’t get” Google+ but as of now, I’ve updated my profile and have worked some Google+ into my daily routine. Thanks for the information and inspiration …

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angela taylor-loveless July 6, 2012 at 6:41 am

Thank you. I had absolutely no idea how or why to use this! I do now!

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Lauren @ Part Time House Wife July 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

I’m not going to lie… It makes me feel better seeing you get rejected from foodgawker too. ;-)

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ea-the spicy rd July 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Thanks so much for posting this-loved all the information with some great laughs too :-) I gave up on “those food photo sites” after they rejected way too many of my photos. I even took their badge off my site. I showed them! Anyways, I’ve been on Google + for awhile, but I am a “waffler” using it only every now and then-Thanks to your post, I think I’ll start playing around with it more. When I’m not on Pinterest :-)

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Sommer@ASpicyPerspective August 28, 2012 at 6:28 am

Oh my goodness, Irvin!! What an incredible article. I’ve been blindly using G+ but didn’t really understand the benefits.

Whew, you gave me a lot to think about.

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Tanja October 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

I found my way to this article via Irish Food Bloggers. And boy am I glad I did. I had started using G+ right from starting my blog (only 4 months ago) and already I can see its had a massive effect. With your very practical tips, I’ll be able to use G+ even more to my advantage.

Thanks for taking the time to write and share this with us.
Gracias,
Tanja

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Great, GREAT post! I think you just taught me more about Google + than I’ve learned all week. I joined G+ a while back but really haven’t used it to its full potential (nor do I feel I even know how to do that yet!) Thanks so much for posting these other resources as well. I’ve got enough reading material to last me a few days!

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Miles @ Greek Recipe Hub March 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Thanks for this! I’ve just signed up for Google+ not too long ago, maybe I need to start using it more. Any hey, I shake my fist at those two websites, too! haha

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Food Geek May 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

Thanks for a great post. I’ve only just got the hang of Facebook & Twitter and Google+ just felt so daunting I’ve put it off until now.

I finally felt ready to handle it but didn’t have a clue where to start until I found this post.

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