The SEO Value of the Google +1 Button
Google recently announced something called the +1 Button. This feature will soon be available to all Google account users (including Gmail and Google Apps users) when logged into Google. Simply click the +1 Button when you find it on a website to promote that page, similar to how the Facebook Like button functions. But that is where the similarities end.
There are two major unique features of the Google +1 Button:
- The +1 Button will also show up next to search results and along side Google AdWords ads.
- Unlike Facebook and Twitter there is not a feed that is pushed to your friends when you +1 something. Instead your Google Social Search connections will see +1’s from you on the actual search results, ads, and pages that they visit. This includes all of your contacts in Gmail, GTalk, and any social network that you’ve integrated with your Google Account. However, there will be privacy setting available to limit the visibility of your +1’s if needed.
This small change in function radically changes the purpose of the +1 Button from an SEO and marketing perspective. Instead of using the +1 Button to spread a message, like when you tweet about the article you just wrote, it can be used to give weight to content. This allows users to give feedback not just on the relevancy of search results & ads, but also on their preference for a particular result.
+1 Button Search Example
Let’s say I’m looking for a plumber in my area so I go to Google and search for “San Antonio plumber. ” The results might look like this:
I see that my best friend Barry +1’d E.L. Smith Plumbers. I might be more likely to visit their site instead of going with the first search result because of the recommendation. Conversely, if Barry had posted 3 months ago on Facebook that he had a good experience with E.L. Smith plumbers, how likely is it that I would remember that now that I need a plumber?
What the +1 Buttons Can Mean for You
So the SEO value here is in highlighting good websites & companies despite the fact that they may not have the highest search ranking on the results page. If you haven’t been able to make your way to the top of the search listing, but you have happy and loyal customers this could be part of your strategy to leverage that loyalty across your customer’s Google connections.
But, that’s not where the benefits end. Now let’s see what might happen if E.L. Smith plumbing added a +1 Button to all of their blog pages right next to the Twitter and Facebook buttons. When someone arrives at a particular page and sees that one of their business associates who is a general contractor +1’d E.L. Smith plumbing, don’t you think they will be more likely to do business with E.L. Smith? I do.
At this point you may be excited about this new feature. Or you may be thinking of all of the nonstarters that Google has launched over the years and wondering if this will take off. Google will probably never knock off Facebook and Twitter for on-page sharing buttons, but having the +1 Button on the search results page should give them the traction necessary to reach critical mass and make the on-page +1 Button a key player in the social recommendation space.
The greatest benefit, however, will be received by those who get the +1 button integration implemented first. If you can develop a strategy to encourage your customers to click that button before your competitors get on board, then you should be able to the SEO advantages of this new feature.
Google hasn’t quite finished building out the functionality of the +1 Button, but you can be notified by Google once the +1 Button is ready to be placed onto websites.
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