I’m going to be honest: I don’t really know how I feel about Google+.
I guess I’m still not really sure what the point of it is, other than self-promotion. It doesn’t seem to have the same heart that other social media networks do (like, say, Tumblr or Instagram). I feel like everyone is on it just because they’ve heard that not being on it is basically committing SEO suicide.
I mean, that’s why I joined it.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind, right? I actually really like the new Google+ design. It’s very clean, modern, and photo-friendly…which leads me to the main topic of this post.
As you can see, Google+ page profiles allow you to have a gigantic cover photo/banner. This is both a plus and a minus. It’s a plus because, when used well, it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a minus, though, because it’s actually really hard to use well!
While I am definitely not an expert, I wanted to share some tips for creating your own Google+ banner. These are written from the perspective of a complete beginner and are based on my own trial and error–so those of you who know better, please leave your own tips in the comments!
1. Read this guide. It’ll give you a great overview of what you can do with the banner. It also provides accurate dimensions: 2120 x 1190 pixels. When googling for information, watch out for outdated sources that refer to old Google+ features!
2. Don’t use an iPhone camera for your photo. This might seem obvious, but it wasn’t to me (whoops). I don’t have an SLR, so I’ve been using my phone camera all this time, including for my Etsy photos. I figured the iPhone camera was just about as good, if not better, than an old point-and-shoot. This is not true if you need to use the zoom function for your photo! It turns out that the iPhone camera (and I’m assuming other phone cameras) lacks an optical zoom function. That means your photo will degrade in quality the more you zoom in.
3. When taking your photo, remember that the bottom section will be covered by your profile photo and name. That means you should have any important visual elements appear nearer to the top of the photo. It’s also a good idea to have the color at the bottom of your photo contrast with the colors in your profile photo.
4. Also consider that your cover photo and profile photo will appear on your “hovercard.” That’s what pops up when you hover your mouse over someone’s Google+ post. Check out what your hovercard will look like to others by going to your Dashboard and hovering over one of your own posts. You might not be able to avoid trial and error to figure out the best positioning for both your profile home page and your hovercard.
5. To minimize photo blurriness, try the following steps using Photoshop or other image-editing software:
- Crop the photo to exactly 2120 x 1190 pixels.
- Make sure the photo size is 2120 x 1190 pixels with at least 300 dpi for color photos and 150 dpi for black and white photos.
- If you are using a point-and-shoot camera and/or your photography skills aren’t great, try purposely blurring the background to detract from unintentional blurriness. There are tons of tutorials out there, but I used this one.
- Save the photo as a high-quality jpeg (I chose the maximum setting).
6. If your photo looks fine in Photoshop but terrible after being uploaded to Google+, try turning off Google’s Auto-Enhance. You can do this by going to your Google+ Settings and unchecking the box under “Photos.” Auto-Enhance is on by default, and it supposedly makes your photos look better, but it did not work for me. After turning it off, you’ll have to re-upload your photo.
If you find these tips helpful, let me know how your banner turns out. I’d love to see your masterpiece!