Google +1 And What It Means For Business Owners

Cassandra Aw

There is just no end to the number of social marketing tools appearing on the market. Following Facebook’s launching of its fan page concept and Twitter’s popularity overdrive,  yet another potential social marketing platform has descended which you may well want to begin taking note of.

Months after their release of the +1 button in search engine results in March (you can enable this option via this link), Google has now launched the button for webpages.

Webmasters can place this button onto the webpages by inserting a small snippet of code. To date, here are some sites which will soon be featuring the button:

+1? What’s that?

The concept behind it is very simple. One might call it Google’s answer to Facebook’s Like button. Or, as Google itself explains:

The +1 button is shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out.”

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

As mentioned earlier, Google first rolled out its +1 button on its search listings in March, presumably to test the waters and analyze users’ responses to this new concept.

What direction will +1 take?

Google itself has described +1 as a way to “publicly give something your stamp of approval” and to share recommendations with those in your social circle. This inherently lends +1 an air of credibility that social network sites share in general. After all, having a friend tell you that something is worth checking out is far more likely to encourage you to do so as opposed to the corporate bigwigs or PR staff doing so, and online marketing efforts can make use of this to gain more traction with potential customers.

Another advantage this brand new feature of placing the button onto individual webpages has is that websites with a higher number of +1’s will gain rankings in Google’s search results. This is yet another reason for you to embrace +1: with Google’s name being the default search engine most users turn to, +1 may well prove to be a potent player in your arsenal of SEO and SEM tools. As Google itself explains in its +1 button FAQ:

Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1’s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.

Some Doubts

A problem with Google +1 is the ambiguity of its name. The success of Facebook’s like button is due in no small part to the easy, idiot-proof communication of what it stands for – you like something on Facebook because you, well like it. It’s pretty hard to be confused by something as straightforward as that. Compare this to +1, which doesn’t quite provide quite that same ease of understanding. We can foresee a lot of head-scratching going on when users get their first encounter with the +1 button on a webpage or a search result.

On another note, on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, it is immediately clear who you are sharing your content with – something that isn’t as obvious as in the case with Google +1. What we know is, you will need a public Google profile to be able to +1 something, so presumably it will be your contacts on Google services such as Gmail, Gtalk, Google Buzz, et cetetera who you will be sharing your content with.

Odds are, you probably already have a Google account, if not a profile. But we do doubt if users – or business owners – really need yet another social profile to add onto the list of online personas they need to upkeep and maintain. This article by Stefan Meeuws debates the merits of Google’s efforts to grab a slice of the social networking pie which may be of some interest to you.

This has not been Google’s first venture into the social networking craze, as this extremely detailed and rather hilarious graphical timeline done up by the industrious folks at Mashable illustrates. Will +1 end up as just yet another Google attempt at social networking? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, do let us know how your experience with the +1 button has been by leaving us a comment below! 😉

Tags: +1, google, SERP,

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