The Google Plus (Google+) profile has a lot more value than the ability to share and follow content. There are some distinct SEO advantages that are simple to implement and can result in more traffic to your content across the web. A Google+ profile is simple to setup. It automatically gets created after setting up a Gmail account or converting an existing email address into a Google Account. Once setup there’s an about section to fill out, and a large cover photo and profile pic to upload.
You can then “follow” the content of others and organize the people (or pages) in private “circles.” Circles are similar in a way to Twitter lists where you can look at a stream of content from just one “set of people.” There are also communities, easy to setup live video streams (Google Hangouts), and other aspects of Google+ that are worth looking into.
Increased traffic potential from Google+
The advantages come when marking up content across the web to link to the profile. So, even if content is created on other sites, with a little effort, you can help Google can tie all that content back to you. When this happens, the piece of content will show up in search results with your Google profile picture next to each listing, often resulting in a higher click thru rate. In addition there are extra links within the search engine result that point to more of your content, and to your Google profile.
When connecting all content in this manner, you are building what is called Google Authorship. It is suggested that Google looks at social signals for the content and if past content was seemingly popular, new content could potentially rank higher and faster.
Setting it up: Quick Walkthrough
The process is simple. All of the sites that you contribute content can be linked to from within the Google Plus profile. And then, Google looks for signals like the by-line, and other more obvious signals like a rel=author link that links back to the profile. This link, when appearing on the profile/archive/about, or content page on the site you contribute content to, will signal to Google that the content was authored by you. There is also a meta tag that can be placed within the head tags to offer the same signal.
Also, adding other profiles like Gravatar can potentially help rankings. When commenting on blogs, especially WordPress blogs, using the email address that is tied to the Gravatar account can signal to Google the type of web sites that you frequent further showing evidence of being immersed, and therefore somewhat of an authority, in a certain niche.
If the niche is related to content your profile is tied to, it can potentially increase rankings because it shows consistent education and interaction in the niche. More than that, if creating a Google plus page attached to a web site, a rel=publisher link can be added to the site when linking to the page, tying the two together.
All of this can also allow content posted to the Google+ pages and profile to be indexed in search results. If tying all of the content together seems like you are providing too much information to Google then perhaps you are looking at things the wrong way. If providing value to the web, and in various places, tie the content together and get recognized for the work. Who knows, it can bring more organic traffic your way, and according to reports from Google, and SEO veterans, it likely will, and for some it has.