Google +1 Big News for SEO
I’ve made some predictions in my lifetime, but few of them have come true. However, there are two predictions I’ve made that have come true. About four years ago when Facebook was less than 100 million users, I predicted it would become huge. In fact, I predicted Facebook would broaden its footprint on the web beyond social networking. While I had no idea what that would look like, the Facebook Open Graph API which allows any website to have a Like button and to embed your fan page on a web page is a good example. I admit, that was an easy prediction. Facebook was on the move in a big way as long as four years ago and to me it was obvious they were going to do big things. They have and they continue to do big things.
My other prediction, which has taken much longer to materialize, is that Google would become more social in the way that it presents search results. I’ve blogged about this several times. More recently, I’ve blogged about Google’s announcement to integrate social search results in organic listings.
Google vs. Facebook: It’s a War
It’s become apparent that Facebook is becoming more search engine-like and that Google was been attempting to become more social. Admittedly, Google’s attempt to add social features has been relatively slow. Google Buzz hasn’t exactly taken off, but it’s a step toward social.
While Google and Facebook are the clear 800 pound Gorillas on the Internet vying for our time and ad dollars, there are some distinct differences that marketers should understand.
Facebook Like Has Become Pervasive
Let’s face it, Facebook has succeeded in permeating the world’s websites and blogs with its Like button. Google has to (privately) feel they’ve been trumped by the almighty Like. But, one thing Google has that Facebook doesn’t have is search market share. After all, Facebook is a noun and Google is a verb. When you are searching for information online you don’t “Facebook” it you Google it.
Google Announces +1
It’s estimated that more than 50% of corporations don’t allow its employees to access Facebook from the office. But, Google is available to all employees. So, Google brilliantly came up with its own version of Like with this week’s announcement of the Google +1 concept.
Essentially, the Google +1 button is the same as Like. When you see a search listing you are willing to recommend in Google you can click the +1 button to tell the world (publicly) that you like it. The +1 button will also be available for ads in Google Adwords.
The Rise of the Google Profile
The new Google Plus 1 feature is for people that are signed into their Google accounts. Overnight, the value of a Google profile has skyrocketed. If you have not set up your Google profile, now is the time to do it or you’ll not see the people in your social circle that like search listings via the Google +1 button.
Within minutes of reading about the new Google +1 button and how it works, I was hearing how companies were planning to tell all their “friends” to click the +1 button on their listings in Google. Presumably companies with a larger pool of employees have an advantage over small companies on this. But, let’s put a yellow light on this. Google has a track record of building very smart algorithms. I certainly hope they can detect “+1 spam” by detecting when employees of a company click Google +1 on their website listing.
It‘s speculated that the Google profile will become more prevalent than it was previously. Heck, many people don’t even know there is such a thing as a Google profile. In due time, it’s possible the Google profile will become the equivalent of a Facebook fan page, especially if Google evolves the profile into a more social and feature-rich digital asset. BTW, there’s another prediction!
SEO Implications for Small and Medium Businesses
Google has made it clear they will roll out Google +1 (in the U.S. first) and watch the “signals” given by people who “+1” your search listings. They will use these signals to determine rankings. Since Google’s ultimate end user goal is to deliver relevant results (to keep you loyal to using Google for search), they want to reward those sites which have legitimately earned Google +1 clicks. So, in the end the implications to any business concerned about their impact on search engine rankings is to deliver quality content. Additionally, companies whose employees are socially active and signed into their Google profile will have the ability to be influencers by clicking +1 on listings they like and to observe the influence of others that click Google +1 on search listings. Socially active businesses will have an advantage over non-socially active companies by participating in Google’s signal ecosystem through its evolving social search strategy.
This is still the beginning of Google’s evolving social search strategy. They are carefully rolling this out without much fanfare to monitor its adoption and impact on search behavior. Their war with Facebook is interesting to watch. In the end, we are all the winners, although our heads may spin trying to keep pace with the advancements coming from both companies.
There are many articles and blog posts being written on Google +1. I recommend you read Google’s official blog post announcing Google Plus 1. It provides a clear explanation and a short video.
As a marketer, are you prepared for Google’s +1 social search results? Leave your comments below.