How Journalists Should Set Up Google+ Profiles

A properly set-up profile is what makes Google+ effective for an individual journalist looking to establish a brand online or cement their brand in a Google search. You need to have the right info on display to ensure people can find you in a Google search by looking for your name or some keywords like what you cover or where you work.

Looking for how to set up a Google+ Page for a news brand?

First, signing up. To do this, go to plus.google.com. If you have a Gmail, YouTube or Picasa account already, you can sign in with that Google login info here and be on your way. If not, click on “Create an account” and it’ll walk you through the steps.

Should you sign up for a work-only Google+ account separate from your personal account? That’s up to you — and your employer’s social media policy. If your employer says they own your social media accounts and followers, you’ll definitely want to set up a separate account. For Digital First Media employees, this isn’t an issue. One downside to setting up a different account is that you’ll need to toggle between both accounts when you use any Google tool, which can be a pain.

Setting Up Your Profile

1. Set up your name and profile image: Be sure to use your real name and a photo of yourself. You’re a journalist and you want to be found, right?

2. Write your Introduction, Occupation and Work History with search in mind. Your account will show up apart from your profile in Google searches, like so:

Your occupation and first listed employer will show up right after your name in searches, so make sure your occupation is descriptive (say Business Reporter, Tech Reporter, Crime & Court Reporter, for instance, if you have a set beat) and your employers are in the right order.

The beginning of your introduction also shows up in search, so keep that in mind. In your introduction, you can be as personal and descriptive as you want to be. I’d recommend describing what you do, what subjects you cover and what geographic areas your work covers – at the very least.

As for where you’ve lived and work history – you don’t have to get detailed if you aren’t comfortable doing so. Keep in mind, however, that it might help a past source or reader know you’re that same guy they knew back at your old employer if they find you here.

3. Set and verify your work email account: This seems trivial, but could be huge. On your profile setup, it will list your Gmail account, but it also has an option for a work account. This is where you need to add the same email address that is linked to your byline on your website, which should help to link your story and G+ profile in search, like so:

Elise Foley's Google Plus Results

Once you’ve entered and saved your work address, a link should show up to the right of it asking you to verify the email. (This might not show up right away, so check back later if it isn’t there right off.) Click it and it will send you an email to verify the setting. A checkbox will show up next to the email address if it has been verified.

Yes, this is my work email, don't abuse it

Update 7/5/12: Google+ now has one easy spot to verify your professional authorship

4. Set your privacy settings: You can set the visibility of each area of your profile separately. You’ll want to make sure your Introduction, Occupation and Work History are public for search. Make sure you’ve checked the box at the bottom for “Help others discover my profile in search results.” The rest is up to you. (See it)

5. Link your other online accounts: On the right side of your About page, you can and should add link to your other social  media, blogging, curation and writing accounts. What you might consider adding here: Twitter, Facebook (if it’s got a public element), your personal website (if you have one), any blogs you write and your Delicious/Diigo account/public Google Reader shares, etc. (See It)

Below this is “Contributor To”, where you can connect to all the places where your work is displayed online. If you have a reporter/author page on your news outlet’s website, add it here. If not, add a link to an on-site search for your byline.

Recommended Links is where you can add any other links you might want to highlight, like information resources relating to your work, go-to sources for your reporting, favorite sites, etc.

And with that, you’re all set. Now, let’s get to posting updates and creating Circles.