Move over Facebook Like, Here Comes +1
For some time now, there have been rumors about a Google social networking community. And while it's no secret anymore that Google uses social cues in its algorithm, many wonder if the new Google +1 (plus one) button is the rumored social network or merely an added layer of social search.
Late last month, Google announced the +1 button, a feature for online users to endorse everything from Web pages and websites to paid search ads. Some speculate whether or not Google's new feature will give the Facebook "Like" a run for its money.
Still in the experimental stage, users can request an opt-in to use the +1 button in their daily search activities. Here's how it works: for those logged in to Google, the +1 button will be featured next to websites on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and even next to paid ads in the right-hand column.
Once another +1 user recommends the site or ad, not only is the total number of +1s shown for that site or ad, but images of people in the user's Google community will be featured next to it. The goal, states Google, is to "help friends, contacts, and others on the Web find the best stuff when they search."
For now, the +1 buttons are not available to integrate onto websites like the Facebook Like button is. In a recent article at Search Engine Land on the topic, author Danny Sullivan reported Google was more concerned with how +1 integrates with search right now.
The Potential Impact of +1 on Internet Marketing
The search marketing industry is aflutter with the possible impact the +1 feature may have. It looks as though the feature could offer more data to the marketer on what's working and what isn't. But, it may also leave marketers with even more questions.
For example, if someone +1s a company's pay per click ad, the feature doesn't indicate what a person thought was cool about the ad and why it was endorsed. It could be a great many variables. As with the Facebook Like button, it doesn't give an in-depth look into the psyche of the user, but it does show popularity.
What Google +1 does have over Facebook Likes as far as providing value to marketers is the added chances for optimizing efforts for pay per click ad tactics, for example. Using the +1 data and testing various versions of a pay per click ad could be revealing to the advertiser.
Likewise, demographic data from the Google Profile is tied to +1 users, so advertisers will have more insight into who is interested in their products or services, according to a recent post, "The Google 'Like'".
As far as impact on the search results, it looks like Google will use "signals to identify the most useful recommendations" as a user of Google +1. According to Google, this includes factors like recommendations form people you're connected to in Google and potentially networks like Twitter, in the future.
As a user of +1, connections in Google include those in a Google Talk chat list, Google Contacts and people the user follows in Google Reader or Google Buzz, according to the article mentioned previously on Search Engine Land.
Bradley Leese, senior SEO analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc. has been closely following Google's rise to social search. And although he says the feature is currently buggy, hard to use and could just be another fad, Leese believes that if it takes off, it has potential to replace the link popularity factor in SEO.