Google +1 is a new feature within the Google Social Search platform that allows searchers to recommend (or “+1”) both paid and natural search results in a direct response to the Facebook “like.”
Only users signed into their Google profile will have the option to utilize +1 button to recommend that site, however, everyone who searches on Google will see these +1 recommendations.
How Does it Work?
This is the latest in a series of improvements designed to incorporate social media data within search results. +1 is a direct evolution of a feature Google rolled out in February 2011 – an update that added several key components that cleared the way for +1.
- •Added social annotations from co-workers and friends below results they’ve shared or created
- •Added notes for links people have shared on Twitter and other sites
- •Improved the capability for users to either connect accounts publicly with their Google profile, or privately in their Google Account
Like social search, the Google +1 button will appear within the page links on each Google search results page. Anyone with a Google profile can click the +1 button to publicly give a search result (organic result) or an ad (paid result) their recommendation to friends and contacts right within the search result screen.
Searchers who have a Google account but no Google Profile will see the personalized +1s but won’t be able to click the +1 button themselves and those users sans Google Profile or aren’t logged in will only see an aggregate total of +1s - “X people +1’d this page.”
Implications for Marketers
While +1s will not be factored into either of Google’s organic or paid search ranking algorithms, they will likely have an indirect impact on a site’s PageRank by influencing click-through rates (CTRs) – a variable that is currently factored in. Over the coming months, it will be crucial to monitor click-through rates (CTRs), cost per click (CPC) and ad quality scores to understand exactly how +1s impact a campaign – both in terms of performance and in cost.
+1’s initial impact will most likely be towards strong brands – those with a large fan base and brand equity- where the+1’s attract more clicks, improving search performance and creating a scenario where these brands fortify their position within organic search rankings.
Further making competition tougher for new brand launches or brand challengers is that brands with low +1 counts could potentially paying more per campaign just to maintain current PageRank position and traffic flow.
The rules for SEO-PR remain the same – utilizes PR content optimized with best practices for organic search to leverage the power of search engines to link build and drive searchers to a client’s site.
However, content developers should realize that the +1 update has more in common with the “rules” for developing social media copy than it does pure SEO/SEM. In terms of historical use, +1 compares with Twitter – some users will become early-adopters and will use +1 frequently, while others will hang back, update less or be slower to adapt to the Google profile suite.
Google already uses data from many social platforms –most notably Twitter & Flickr- so creating content optimized for +1 in organic search should be treated like existing engagements – “ReTweet” for Twitter and “Like” for Facebook.
Accordingly, the +1 button for paid search (ads) can provide a legitimacy that will increase clickthough, exposing searchers to the intended messages at a higher rate. This, in turn, should provide an increase in organic search to move a site “above the fold” as its PageRank increases.
Google’s quiet layering of a user’s social network activity in search results means that an individual’s search results can be highly personalized based on their individual networks recommendations by simply linking a Google profile with Twitter, Facebook, etc.
This makes social activity even more important to the overall “findability” of content and SEO for brand efforts as personalized annotations increase the chances searchers will end up on your site help by indicating when ads and organic search results are relevant to them.
In order to take advantage of the added social layer, we recommend a Google +1 strategy centered on utilizing a brand’s current advocate base to maintain position amongst the competitive landscape
Once approved by Google, implementing a +1 button on content-centered pages, similar to the Facebook “Like” and Twitter “Follow” buttons, is a crucial step to provide ease of action for a brand’s followers.
As users will likely be more inclined to +1 a page if the have experience with the brand then they will be after seeing the search result alone, a three-step outreach series on existing owned and shared channels is also recommended.
- •Inform – Alert consumers to the coming change. Demonstrate the ease of which they can participate
- •Update – Once the Google +1 reaches full-release, provide the information to your fan base as a type of “go” call
- •Ask – Activate the consumer base
Afterward, brands develop a social customer relationship management (sCRM) strategy to encourage existing and new users with Gmail addresses to +1 their pages.
All ads will soon receive +1 buttons by default, so it is highly recommended that brands currently using or contemplating paid search activate a monitoring program specially designed to translate the impact of +1 on search. Advertisers will be able to see stats on how many people have +1’d their ads.