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Google's New +1 Button

Image Google's New +1 Button
By Vanessa Salvia, 4/27/11 On March 30, Google rolled out a new "+1 Button," which allows users to "like" a specific piece of content by voting for it. As of now, users can vote for search results, AdWords ads and, later on, pages on websites, provided the button has been added to the site. While this button parallels the Facebook 'Like' button, there is a key difference between the two. When you are logged in to your Google account, your friends will see the things that you liked with the Google button when they search for the same things you were searching for. On Twitter and Facebook, if you want to share some particular piece of content or a link, you have to send the link to your friends. But one of the things that Google is known for and has built their empire around, is showing personalized and relevant search results, including advertisements, based around what Google knows about the user and what they are searching for. This set-up with the button is similar to Digg or other social bookmarking sites. If someone likes a result they find on Google, they hit the +1 button, then go on searching for whatever they're looking for. When someone else makes the same search that the first person made, they'll see that there's a +1 attached to that particular result, which Google believes will encourage the follow up searchers to click on that result. Your +1s are public, and you can always see the things you have given +1s to on a tab in your profile. You can publicly share this tab if you want to. People within your network (people in your Gmail or Google Talk chat list, people in your Google Contacts group, and people you're following in Google Reader or Buzz) will see that you, specifically, liked the results you +1'd. What your network will see is a +1 next to the link, and under it will be your profile photo and "Your Name" +1'd this page," with "Your Name" a clickable link to your Google profile. Implications for SEO and Blogs Increasingly, how a site interacts with social media is becoming more important for search results. If you search for a business name, social media profiles are now included in search results. Take HeroWeb for instance. Search for "heroweb" and you'll see that the first two results are from our website, the third is our Twitter profile, and the fourth is a Yelp review. There are a couple of links with the word hero in them that are unrelated to us, followed by our Facebook profile. This is huge for small businesses. With the right mix of profiles, reviews and blogs, and high ranking pages on a website, it is possible for small businesses to dominate the first page of Google search results completely. Now, with Google's button, we see Google's continued and increased reliance on social media to provide what it believes are relevant results. Google will no doubt use this data over time to influence their search algorithms. On one hand, the button offers you a free opportunity to have your content "voted" on by real social media users. When you get a +1, you're going to benefit from that. On the other hand, it offers yet another front for competition. If other websites and blogs are getting +1s and you're not, then you likely won't be able to rank as well as a site that has more +1s. So, continue creating high quality content and putting as much energy and effort into your blog, social media profiles, and on-page content as you can. You won't get +1s unless you are providing original, engaging content, so do your best. Increasing your site's social circle will provide you more opportunities for +1s. We suggest that you add the +1 button to your ecommerce website when it's available, in just the same way that you would add Facebook and Twitter buttons to easily and quickly allow users to recommend and share your products. Inpage +1 buttons will definitely be a major factor for ecommerce sites, allowing any of their content pages to gain some traction in the social networks. It seems unlikely that users will see a result in the SERPs, click on it, then go back to the SERPs and +1 it. Of course, there is always the possibility that this button will end up being "spammified" in some way. It remains to be seen how Google is going to prevent this from happening. When a user +1's something, most likely Google will take into account the user's activity on Gmail, Youtube, and other Google products, including the age of their Google account, the amount of +1′s they've clicked, etc. If the new system does get "gamed," it seems likely that +1′s from new Gmail accounts with minimal activity and email contacts will be discounted. But, as we said, it remains to be seen how Google will use the button and how users will use the button. Implications for AdWords Google is allowing the button to appear next to AdWords ads. They say, from their AdWords blog, that "the way we calculate Quality Score isn't changing (though +1s will be one of many signals we use to calculate organic search ranking). The way we measure Quality Score for your ads has not changed. We continue to use historical AdWords performance information, clickthrough rate (CTR), and other signals to calculate your Ad Rank and cost-per-click (CPC)." It seems clear that if Google is going to the trouble to develop and implement this button, that they are going to use the data that it collects in significant ways. Having +1s on an ad may increase user engagement, but it also means you may have to do more testing to determine which forms of your ads are working best. Conclusion As we have seen from Google's implementations over their history, Google is involved in a continual drive toward personalization of search results. This is the next step in that direction, to make it easier for you to find things you like based on what other people have already found and liked themselves. Even a small scale adoption by Google users will allow them to serve more targeted marketing ads across all of their products. While it remains to be seen how readily consumers will adopt this, in this case what is good for Google might be good for business users as a whole.

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