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10 Tips on How to Use Google Plus Hangouts

10 Tips on How to Use Google Plus Hangouts

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Google hangouts and the SEO advantages of hosting a Google hangout and using this as a source of engagement with your followers and customers.

Let’s just analyse this new piece of the SEO pie for a moment before we continue.

Firstly, some ingredients that make for great SEO

How to use Google Plus hangouts

If the above are the core ingredients for SEO domination then Google Hangouts is the special ingredient that binds them all together.

All sounds delicious right? So where’s the cookbook?

The following is a detailed account of what I have found to be the perfect recipe for hosting a Google Hangout on Air and, if executed correctly, can offer a vast improvement to your SEO. It includes the steps and 10 tips on how to use Google Plus Hangouts.

So where do we start?

What is a Google Hangout?

There are two types of Google Hangouts, Hangouts and Hangouts on Air. Hangouts are more of an engagement tool with friends, very much like Google chat and Skype. What we’re focussing on in this post is Google Hangouts on Air.

Simply put, a Google Hangout on Air is a great alternative to expensive webinar solutions where you and up to 9 guests can hangout and discuss whatever topic takes your fancy and broadcast that conversation to the rest of the world.

Your Google Hangout on Air is automatically broadcast live to both your Google+ home page and YouTube channel for the world to see.

Step 1: Setting Up and Promoting a Hangout


Always use your business page rather than your personal page, this is the equivalent of using your Facebook business page to promote your business rather than your personal account.

First things first, you’re going to need to follow a few pointers from Google to make the most of your Google Hangout on Air experience;

Google recommend using Chrome as your browser when running a Hangout on Air although from my experience all the popular web browsers will work perfectly well with no degradation of service.

You’ll also need to link a YouTube channel with your Google+ account before starting a Hangout on Air. This is very straightforward and you’ll be prompted to do this when you first start testing with Hangout on Air.

Finally you and your guests will need the Hangouts plugin, which again you’re prompted to do when you first launch a Hangout.

N.B You may need to open the plugin once downloaded to begin the installation even though the status on screen states ‘initialising’ – this seems to be a small bug. 


Take a look at the Google Communities from the drop down menu on the left hand side of your Google+ page and search for communities where your future followers are likely to hangout.

 Google+ allows you to create a number of different Circles where you can include as many people as you like. Ensure you take full advantage of this and create a new Circle specific to the people you want to engage with on your Hangout and then start searching for these people.

How to use Google Plus hangouts

If I’m running a Hangout on Air to talk about Social media for example, I’m going to search for this term within the Communities’ page, this returns nearly 200 different groups with some groups having in excess of 65k members.

Clicking on the community you’re interested in takes you to their News Feed and on the left hand side you’ll see the number of public members in the Community. Click on this and start adding these people to your new Circle.


Google will limit the number of people you can add to a Circle daily, so give yourself as much time as possible before the Hangout is scheduled to add people to your Circle.


In order to be able to invite people in your new Circle to the Hangout on Air you need to create an event.

This is found on the left hand side drop down box under events.

Click Create Event.

This is where you place all of the important information about the event/Hangout,

time, date etc.

How to use Google Plus hangouts

You also need to give the event a title, try and make this as inviting and specific as possible to intrigue and encourage people to attend the event.

Be sure to upload your own banner promoting the event. Make sure it’s eye catching and unique. This needs to be at least 1200×300 dpi. A good example of a banner design is below as is clear, concise and provides the relevant and important points of the Hangout.

How to use Google Plus hangouts

Now you want to invite the Circle you’ve spent all that time building out. This invite will be sent to all those in the Circle, so again the more time you can spend building out the Circle, the larger the potential audience for your Hangout.

By inviting people in this way, those that accept the invite will be sent an email reminder shortly before the Hangout is due to air with a link taking them to your YouTube channel where the Hangout will be streaming live.

Finally, under event options, you need to make sure that you’re marking the event as ‘on air’ – this is found under ‘advanced’.

You can also select ‘show more options’, which allows you to add your own website URL (this will become important and apparent later).

The single most important part of hosting a Google Hangout on Air is that you want as many people to view the event as possible so you need to make it easy for people to do so.


It’s a popular misconception that only people with a Google+ account or within your circle can view the Hangout. This simply isn’t the case. You only need to have a Google+ account if you are a guest actively participating the Hangout rather than someone just viewing the Hangout.

This is perhaps the most important tip I’m giving on this entire blog.

With that in mind it’s important to drive people to a single location to view the hangout.

When inviting people from outside Google+ I’d suggest sending them to a dedicated page on your website or blog where you’ll embed the YouTube video prior to ‘going live’. How to do this is explained below.

Step 2: Starting the Hangout

So everyone’s invited, you’ve got 1000’s of people responding and saying how excited they are to hear what you have to say and the big day’s arrived what do you do?


Google Hangouts, although highly effective, isn’t the most intuitive piece of software that Google has ever released. It’s important that you’re comfortable with the inner workings way before the live Hangout takes place.

Work with friends, family and colleagues to test the invites, software, features and functionality as much as possible before the Hangout date.


Make Sure you enter the Hangout at least 15 to 30 minutes before it’s due to start.

Find ‘Hangouts’ under the ‘Home’ drop down box on the left hand side, from here click ‘Start a Hangout on Air’.

Give your Hangout the same name as you did the Event to ensure continuity and avoid confusion.

Don’t add anyone at this time.

As a general rule of thumb, I’ll open up the Hangout 30 minutes prior to the event actually starting. This gives me time to complete the following steps:

1. Grab your Video URL to embed on your Website/Blog

First things first, make sure you grab the YouTube URL of your Hangout so you can embed this within the dedicated page of your blog/website or wherever you are driving your viewers to watch the Hangout. The URL can be found at the bottom of your Hangout screen.

2. Ensure your camera, sound and lighting are all working correctly.

You can check all of this at your end, but it doesn’t hurt to invite a colleague or friend onto the Hangout at this point to do some last minute video/sound quality checks for the people on the other side of the Hangout.

Use headphones and encourage all your guests to do this same. This will improve the sound quality massively for those watching the broadcast.

Shut down all other applications that may interference and call degradation (Skype, Spotify, etc.).

3. Ensure that the apps you want to use on the Hangout are active.

There’s a whole host of apps that you can use to enhance your Google Hangout on Air experience, too many to discuss in this blog, however the two that I feel are essential requirements for your Hangout are the Hangout toolbox and the Q&A app.

The Hangout Toolbox allows you to use the lower third of the screen to promote your business and the hangout topic, in much the same way you’d see on a news channel. This is a great feature and adds professionalism to your Hangout. You can create your own custom overlay, this needs to be a 640×360 transparent .png file which can uploaded via the hangout toolbox.

The Q&A app allows those people watching from your Google+ home page or YouTube channel to type a question to you and your guests. This is a great way to interact with your viewers, people like nothing more than a ‘shout out’ during a live broadcast and this helps to encourage engagement.

Ensure you play around with these apps on your test Hangouts to get a good understanding of how they work and function.


How to use Google Plus hangouts

It sounds obvious, but as most people have more than a single email address nowadays you need to make sure you use the email address that your guest used to create their Google+ account.

If you use a different address or your guest does not follow you, you won’t be able to invite them to the call.

Invite your guests into the ‘Green Room’

Guests are not automatically placed into the Hangout on Air – you need to invite them.

I like to invite my guests around 15 minutes before the Hangout is due to start. This gives me time to make any necessary introductions and allows everyone to get settled and relaxed before going ‘on air’.

To do this, hover over the top of the screen where the required option is presented.


How to use Google Plus hangouts

Step 3: During the Hangout


During the Hangout, you become the Host, Cameraman, Sound Technician and Production Assistant so it’s important that you’re confident on how to control these features before you go into your Hangout on Air and again, the best way to do this is to play around and experiment beforehand.

However, remember that this is a ‘live Hangout’, people won’t judge you for not being perfect, you’re not making a blockbuster movie and mistakes simply help you engage more with the viewers and makes the whole experience that more personal. The most important part is the content so keep this flowing as best you can.

Depending on the number of guests you have on the Hangout, it might be appropriate to mute their microphones until it’s their time to speak. The last thing you want is everyone talking at the same time.

This is done on the bottom of the screen, in the area called the ‘film strip’ that shows the video image of your guests.

From here you can also manage what the viewers see. By default the software will switch to the camera picking up the dominant sound, this can sometimes be overly sensitive, so I’d advise you to manage this yourself. Simply click on the guest you want the viewers to see.

Throughout the call, carry out screen grabs using your computer at appropriate times so these can be used for post promotion after the event.

Step 4: After the Hangout

After the event take the opportunity to optimise and edit your video through the YouTube video editor on your YouTube Channel. Add appropriate keywords for SEO purposes ensuring the most relevant are used first. Add annotations and edit the Hangout as necessary.  

How to use Google Plus hangouts


Continue to promote the success of the event through the usual social media channels using the screen captures caught during the Hangout and snippets of video.

I’ve quickly had to come to grips with all of the above as I’m talking with Gary Vaynerchuk this Wednesday about his new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – come along (blog.oodals.com.au) and see how all of the above can come together to give you great unique content and the SEO equivalent of a quart of rocket fuel to push you up the Google rankings.

Guest author:Gregg Lander advises businesses and individuals how to integrate with Marketplace platforms, consults on Social Media and marketing strategies and is Managing Director at OOdals. A company dedicated to donating 10% of all sales to charities worldwide.



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Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Nice one Jeff shared on social! Have a great day by design..

  • Matt Young

    Great article, this is something I WILL be doing…

  • This is a great thorough guide, Gregg! One thing I would add to drive engagement and viewership is to promote the Hangout with a hashtag on Twitter. This tactic can encourage discussion among current viewers and spark interest in anyone seeing the tweet(s)!

  • This is really nice and very informative too thanks.

    • Gregg Lander

      Thanks Rizwan, I really appreciate your feedback.

  • Thoroughly enjoyed the post. I like the wok because it contain lots of good info.. It is useful to not only me, It’s to all..

    • Gregg Lander

      Thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate. If I can help with anything else to do with Google Hangouts, please let me know.

      • Caroline Robinson

        Is there a way to figure out how long I spent in a hangout and who else particpated?

  • dpittman

    Outstanding post! I’ve been using Hangouts for several months, and I long ago created a document that covers most of what’s in this post, but this one is more thorough and says it better. Now, I’m just pointing people here!

    • Gregg Lander

      Thanks so much, I really appreciate the feedback and hope you found it helpful. If I can answer anymore of your Hangout questions, please feel free to ask. – Thanks again,

  • Colby Villa

    Hey Gregg, enjoyed the article as well. Any idea when the promotion of a Hangout article is going to go out?

    • Gregg Lander

      Thanks Colby, I currently writing a follow up to this post and will then write about the google+ promotion, hope to have it complete within the next week. – Thanks again,


  • disqus_ruJkt0DylN

    We just started a social media training program for interns (http://ow.ly/rEyRE) and will be setting up a Google+ community for the members along with Google+ Hangouts – This is great advice and we will be sure to utilize it as we build out our community. Thanks for sharing Jeff!

    • Gregg Lander

      Hi there, I’m really glad you found the blogpost useful, if I can offer any assistance in getting your hangouts setup, please feel free to contact me. Regards


  • Gregg Lander

    Hi Shital,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article.
    The article was written to provide useful tips on hosting a Hangout on Air to engage with your customers, fans, followers rather than discussing the value of using Google+ as a social media platform.
    In saying that I think we’re only just starting to understand the potential of G+ and any platform that has over 500 million active users is one that shouldn’t be ignored whether you/me/others believe it’s relevant or not.
    Thanks again for your comments, very much appreciated.


  • Gregg Lander

    Hi Akash, thanks for your comments, I really appreciate it. If I can provide any assistance with any of your future HOA’s, please let me know.



  • Web Design/JKM

    Thanks for sharing this article!!!So usefull..

    • Gregg Lander

      Thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it. If you need any help with a hangout, please feel free to ask.

  • Steven W. Giovinco

    This is a fantastic and detailed article on using Hangouts. Frankly, its been on my “to do” list for several months now, and I’ve never been quite sure how to get started. But after this article, I am ready to schedule one for next week, and if it works well, will recommended it to my clients. Google+ and Hangouts are great ways to boost online visibility and I know is an online reputation management tool. Thanks for the excellent post.

    • Gregg Lander

      Hey Steven, Thanks so much for the feedback, I’m made up that you found the post helpful, completely agree that the online visibility advantages of a GHO is crazy to ignore. If you need any assistance when getting up and running, feel free to give me a shout!

  • Lama Jinpa

    Greg.. isnt there a big omission here? for hangouts on air, they need not be on google plus. for HANGOUTS with 9 people, they MUST be on google… correct? Thanks.

    • Gregg Lander

      Hi Lama, only those people participating in the Hangout require a google + account. You don’t need to have a G+ account to view the hangout which is discussed in point 5 above. – Any further questions, please feel free to ask.
      Thanks again,


  • Thank you so much for such clear steps in getting Hangouts on Air started. I want to start interviewing others in my files, and this is going to help me be skilled right out the gate! I have one question I hope you’ll answer. Some others have said to use your personal page. You clearly state it’s important to use a business page. Can you explain why? Thank you!!

    • Gregg Lander

      Hey Lainna, so happy you found the post useful.
      The reason I feel it’s important to use your business page is that it creates continuity and helps reinforce your brand. The post was written as a guide to use HOA’s to increase the exposure of your business and brand. I look at in the same way I wouldn’t use my personal facebook account for business activity.
      I hope this has helped answer your question, and if you need anything else, please feel free to ask, I’d be more than happy to help.

  • SandraNoble

    Outstanding article! I’ve been putting together similar info. My dilemma now is how to share this info without plagiarizing. This is very well written

  • James Abell

    Hello, great article. I am waivering between doing more air hangouts or podcasts instead. As I do art/graphics, I think hangouts/air is better so I can concentrate on visual demonstrations etc. Can anyone share their experiences?

    • From my experience as a broadcast radio host and marketing consultant, I think podcasts are geared towards “back ground” learning. Podcasts are more mobile. I can download and listen while I am jogging, gardening or driving.

      A hangout, or anything visual, requires more active listening and participation.

      Both work, of course, I’ve even stripped the audio off of other people’s webinars and listened to them while doing other activities.

      • James Abell

        Ok thanks for the comments. Sure, I often listen to air hangouts while doing other things. I think those particular ones, the host recognizes this and it is less of a show/teach approach more just speaking. Whereas, I will do more hangouts more to do with showing people things etc.

  • Hi there @gregglander:disqus.. I have only just come across this fabulous article today thanks @jeffbullas:disqus! Gregg – I have a question… I’m preparing to record a series of interviews with industry experts from my arena of Professional Speaking. I was thinking of doing this using Google Hangouts but I am not sure it is the right platform. What I want to use it for is to basically RECORD the whole interview for use in my online learning program. I can’t work out if Google Hangouts is only for on-air or if you can record one privately for use later? thanks in advance!

  • Brilliant article, Gregg. I’m sharing it with my community. Let me know if I can do anything else to support you!

  • Rachel Ramey

    I would disagree about the intuitive thing. IMO, this is by FAR the most intuitive piece of software Google has ever released. But they’re really good at producing software with crappy UI’s, so that’s not saying much. :/

  • Brittanypletcher .

    Question… We have google+ and an android phone.. Is there anyway that hangouts can appear on the phone without downloading it or does it have to be downloaded as an app…???? I have a feeling someone went behind my back and downloaded it and lied. I’m hoping this isn’t true.. Please let me know . Thank you..

  • Ray Krueger-Koplin

    I’ve been hunting all over for a practical getting started tutorial and this is by far the best I’ve found! Thank you. A couple of questions. If someone wasn’t invited as a guest ahead of time is there any way for them to interact while viewing e.g. ask a question or actually request an invite to become a guest? Second, isn’t there supposed to be a “control room” app that allows the moderator to adjust volume etc.? I cannot locate it on the test hangouts I’ve created. Thanks again

  • Ralph Nas

    Nice post, i’m testing hangouts on my website http://pixexid.com

  • Zack TheTester

    We use this amazing hangout app to save chat messages inside hangout and hangout on air. Have a look. Its features copied from G+ group:

    A better, more enhanced chat extension for anyone who uses google hangouts video conference, or hangouts on Air, or YouTube live Events.

    ✔ Better UI with more features than default chat extension in hangout video conference.
    ✔ Persistent storage to save chat across different hangout sessions.
    ✔ YouTube live chats gets destroyed once the live event is over. It lets you keep it for your future reference and continuity.
    ✔ Can seamlessly connect YouTube Live chat with hangout chat to enable live event viewers to communicate directly with event/webinar participants and hosts.