Google Plus is a popular topic of debate for social media users, webmasters and marketers, with comparisons to Facebook, is it succeeding or failing, etc. However, most social media marketers that have actually been using the network realize that there are many benefits that go above and beyond Google+ as social network. Since there’s no debating that Google is important, it’s time to get on board for your content marketing strategies.

Here are four uses of Google+ for content marketing that will ensure you get the most value with and on Google.

1) Post Full Articles to G+ For Engagement

Google+ being a ghost town is a silly, user-generated issue. Google+ happens to have some of the best engagement of any social network, depending on the niche. With that said, one of the best ways to drum up that engagement is to post full article right inside of G+, rather than just sharing links from other sources. The full articles tend to do the best, as far as conversation pieces go, and give you the best chance of interaction and growing your following. Since content is pretty much immediately indexed for search on Google+, don’t be surprised if your posts start outranking your blog’s rankings.

2) Tags and Hastags to Build Your Brand

To further gain traction with your content on Google+, get the widest audience possible (and get added to circles) by tagging other people and pages, as well as using hashtags. This will make more people aware of your content, as well as gain visibility for your content. One word of caution though, don’t tag people if you’re not actually referencing them or meaning to pull them, specifically, into the conversation. Doing so can be spammy and annoying, so use it carefully, but wisely.

3) Use Google+ Ripples to Leverage Influencers

If you haven’t checked out Google+ Ripples, they’re very cool. It shows you the effect that a particular user’s interaction with your posts has had to grow visibility. And regularly checking Ripples to see who makes your content go the farthest is a terrific way to know who to engage and interact with. Becoming friends with an influencer can yield outstanding benefits for your content.

4) Use Google+ Direct Connect For a Wide Audience

If you’ve seen a brand show up in the top right-hand column of a Google search (where the top AdWords listing usually shows,) you’ve seen Direct Connect. They way to set your business up to be seen in the same way is to add the code to show your brand’s Google+ page badge at your site, as well as adding a link to your site at your Google+ page. By doing this, you’ll be eligible for the Direct Connect program, but at this time, Google is selectively choosing what brands are included. But even if your business is not immediately chosen, once this opens to widespread use, you’ll be ready to go.