The More the Merrier
Until a few years ago, Google, the search engine giant of the Internet, concentrated solely on refining and improving their search algorithms. In the summer of 2011, they introduce Google+, a social networking site that aimed to spread Google’s influence.
In the year since Google+ arrived, 400 million users have registered for the service, and those users have found their online experience become more integrated. Their online social presence is now linked directly to search, bringing all their online activities under one roof.
Since Google+ was introduced, it has become clear the direction their search algorithms will move in. The investment in Google+ indicated that the search giant would begin to look at social signals in determining search results.
This supposition was reinforced with the introduction of Google+1, a feature that integrated Google’s social network and their search results.
If you’re not familiar with Google+1, all you need to know is that it operates in a similar fashion to Facebook’s ‘Like’ button. By clicking the +1 button on any article, story, recipe, video, or image, you’re giving that content a personal recommendation.
For regular web users Google+1 offers users the opportunity to share content with their friends, by automatically posting +1 recommendations on their Google+ profile.
For web marketers, however, Google+1 has the potential to be a powerful tool to help promote your content and give you the edge you need in search results.
Google+1 in a Post-Penguin World
If there’s one thing the Google Panda and Penguin updates achieved, it was making it more difficult and unpredictable to perform off-site SEO. Backlinks – formerly the mother’s milk of any competent webmaster – suddenly became a much less effective and more dangerous tool. There is now no telling whether a new backlink will help or harm a site’s standing, and even now we have little idea how to move forward with our SEO.
Google+1, on the other hand, is a form of off-site SEO. Unless you pay people to +1 your content, which Google can almost certainly detect, it’s hard to believe that your content could ever be hurt by a recommendation.
Matt Cutts, the Google employee all webmasters turn to in times of confusion, made it clear that Google counts a +1 vote as a solid indication of good quality. He has also confirmed numerous that Google pays attention to social indicators when tweaking their algorithms. It seems likely that +1 has at least a small impact on your placing in the search results.
The Power of Social Interaction
If Google+1 data had no direct impact on search results it would still be useful to add +1 buttons to your content.
When users click a +1 button to recommend your site, it’s publicly shared in his or her Google+ profile. Any users who visit that profile will see the recommendation and have the choice of clicking through to your content. Studies have shown time and again that personal recommendations count just as much as expert advice. If a friend likes a piece of content, there’s a good chance you’ll like it, too.
Every so often you’ll browse Google search results and come across an odd notification; perhaps something like ’5 of your friends like this page’. These notifications are built using +1 data, and they will begin to play a much greater role in the way we use search engines in the future.
Google believes the future of the Internet will involve both search and social. They understand that we use the Internet to connect with friends and family. They know he best way to stay relevant is to appeal to the social needs of its users.
The future, then, will see Google+1 data take on a much greater significance. While right now +1 is a useful, low-key feature that rarely makes itself visible, the data is being collected and pored over.
In short, it’s worth taking notice of Google+1. It’s already noticed you. We will take you to the top with Google +1.