*Update: January 14, 2014
Since I published this post, Google+ has changed a bit. The cover photo does not appear as gigantic on your profile page as before. A good thing in my opinion. The image dimensions given below still work well.
Disclosure: I am sharing some of what I’ve learned about Google+, namely how to optimize your Google+ Cover Photo for SEO, in an effort to help other bloggers who are floundering in the crazy world of Google. I am not an expert…in fact I still have a lot to learn. Every little bit helps though and step by step we will get there!
If you don’t know it by now, it’s time to admit that Google rules the world. Totally and completely. Yes…there are other search engines but Google is the big dog. As webmasters, we strive to make our blogs searchable so we can be blessed by the Google Gods and appear on the first page of a search. A year ago I didn’t know what a keyword, meta description or rich snippet was. (Still not sure about the rich snippet. Ha!) The initials SEO (Search Engine Optimization) meant nothing. I have learned a lot…mostly as a result of moving my blog to WordPress and becoming active on Google+, which is Google’s attempt at ruling social media. I won’t go into how Google+ works because honestly, I don’t understand it. I only know that by following the rules I should (in theory) be rewarded by Google with a high search engine rank.
So…I’m here today to show you how to make your Google+ cover photo and then optimize it for SEO. I promise it’s easy and painless!
1. Go to PicMonkey or other editing program and make an image collage or graphic. The size needs to be 2120 x 1192. Crazy I know. You can use a single image but remember it needs to be as big or bigger than 2120 x 1192. I actually uploaded an edited, raw image to PicMonkey and sized it down. If you make a graphic fill the whole white space. When you save the image make sure and use your blog name and any keywords that are appropriate. Here is an example of a graphic cover photo.
2. Upload your image to Google+ as the cover photo. There’s a button on the top right of your profile page that says “change cover.” A sizing box appears on your image. Pull the corners and make the box as big as your image. Save it. Your cover photo is gigantic so be prepared. Gigantic.
3. Check what the image looks like on your hover card. Hover your mouse over the little circle photo of you that appears beside every post. If you filled the 2120×1192 space it will be readable and clear on your hover card.
4. Go back to your profile. Click on photos at the top. Select whatever album your cover image is in. Mine is in an album called Scrapbook Photos. (No idea why.) Scroll to the bottom and select the image. On the top right is a link to add a caption. Type in your blog name, tagline and main blog url AS YOUR CAPTION.
GIVE YOURSELF A HIGH FIVE BECAUSE YOU’RE ALMOST FINISHED!
5. Now publish a Google+post that includes your new cover image. Bold your blog name, put your tag line in italics, include your main blog url. I used the hashtags #blog and #blogger but you can use whatever hashtags you want. Here is a link to my post containing my cover photo.
It’s important to make the circle with your steps by naming your image, adding the caption and then publishing the image as part of a Google+ post. It would also be helpful if that image was uploaded to your blog. You could add it at the end of a post or throw it at the bottom of your sidebar.
Just a few FYI tidbits…
If you’re like me, you change your cover photo occasionally. Each time you do, follow these same steps. Publish every cover photo as a G+ post so it’s indexed by Google.
To bold your title on a Google+ post, put an asterisk before and after the title. To make text appear in italics put an underscore before and after the text.
One last thing. Make sure your hover card includes your blog url. If it doesn’t, go to the WORK box of your About section. Under EMPLOYMENT put in your url and select the box that says CURRENT.
If you are new to Google+ please don’t be overwhelmed. When I first started posting there I would link and run for the hills. I had no idea what I was doing. Slowly though it all started to make sense and now I actually enjoy my time there. Wonders never cease.
If you have any questions I will try my best to answer. If I don’t know the answer, I will try to find out and let you know.
Source: Stephan Hovnanian, SEO for your Google+ Cover Photo.