Google's +1 button and how it may change SEO

Google has released a new +1 button similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, according to a Mashable post and a SearchEngineLand post. The new feature will allow Google users to, essentially, vote for pages and videos on the web and those votes will be displayed publicly. The new feature has not yet been released to all searchers but users with a Google account can choose to join the experiment at Google Experimental.

In the new promo video, Google says that when you click on the +1 button, “you’re telling your friends, your family, and the rest of the world: ‘This is something you should check out.'”

Matt Cutts was quoted in the SearchEngineLand post by Danny Sullivan:

“The primary benefit is that search gets better. It gets better in the user interface immediately, and we’ll look at it as a potential signal to improve search quality as well. I find social search extremely useful, especially with the recent updates. This change continues the evolution of social search, and it’s a natural progression to improve the search experience,” said Matt Cutts, a Google engineer who is most known for leading Google’s search spam fighting team but who also helped launch Google Social Search in 2009.

Another failed attempt at Social or will this one stick?

With such failures as Orkut and Buzz, Google has been relentlessly trying to get into the social space–and this +1 thing, may be their opportunity. While Google has a wide reach of users because of its products (e.g., Gmail, Google Analytics, etc.), Google has not been good at connecting users like Facebook does. For instance, when I signed up for Google Buzz, I only found 50+ Buzz friends to follow. Many believe that the new +1 feature will be more visible because it’s existence right on the SERP.

What could this mean for SEO?

According to Mashable, Google says that “+1 data will directly influence its market share dominating search rankings.” Thus, we may see modifications to the algorithm. My guess is that we won’t see major algorithm changes for a while–at least while the button is in experimental mode. However, SEO firms and content farms, may have to start worrying about how the +1 button will affect rankings. Sure, you may have a lot of great links, but how many people +1’d (Plus One’d) your website?

If they haven’t already done so, many SEO firms will need start tying SEO campaigns with other social media and content marketing campaigns. Interestingly, this new feature is being released just weeks after the Panda/Farmer Update. Perhaps, Google has realized that its use of the algorithm to populate the SERPs isn’t enough to produce quality search results. From what I’ve read, Google has been known for not allowing people to help pare down search results as Blekko has done. Do you think Google has officially changed its love affair with a algo-only search?

What do you think? If the +1 button changes search rankings, will you change how you do SEO?

Update: I noticed an interesting comment from Marcos on the SearchEngineLand post:

Unfortunately I predict another bummer. The +1 button (named by robots) can get wide adoption among webmasters keen on SEO but who’s gonna click on them? You don’t get instant gratification from your friends or followers for sharing, just a bot will be feeded.

Poor Google, a company run by lonely engineers and their robot friends, instead of sociable people…

I agree with Marcos that people will need an added incentive to click the +1 button. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google tries to get you to add your Facebook account so that when you click +1, it automatically posts the site to Facebook. Does anyone else have any ideas on how Google might incentivize “normal” people (not webmasters or SEOs) to click on the +1 buttons?

Other Articles about the +1 Button:

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  1. Jeff Loquist says

    Hmmmm…this is kind of a wait and see thing, me thinks. Interesting concept, especially with the +1 button aligned in the SERPs, but how does Google plan to stop the spamming of this one…that should be even more interesting.

  2. Scott Cowley says

    Great run-down, David.

    I think Google’s +1 is bound to fail like many other social projects mostly because of workflow. It’s designed to make search results better, but it presupposes that searchers are going to search, click through to a result, then go back to the search result page just so they can “share” in an unincentivized way, like Marcos from SEL said. It makes a lot of assumptions about people and hence produces a lot of possible failure points.

    The other thing I think is worth noting is that the +1 is categorically applied to the page, regardless of the search. I know that when I search, sometimes a page that would be fantastic in filling my need for one keyword term would be terrible for another term, even though the page shows up for both keyword searches. Does +1 address this at all?

  3. Manas Sadangi says

    Eventually Gooqgle concept is to achieve the Goal of venture high search with accuracy results while social media assumption about peoples.

  4. Winson says

    I think this will force SEOERS more forcus on content rather than SEO, the problem is how google can make people to use this on their web site.

  5. Gareth says

    One of Google’s attemtps at social media has to pay off sooner or later. I’m keen to see how the +1 button will develop. I don’t know if I agree that people won’t want to click on the +1 button – if someone likes something they will click.

  6. Evan says

    Considering social seems to be very big right now, it makes sense that they are mimicking this and incorporating analogous functionality into search, at least on the beta level.

  7. annie says

    hey david +1 sounds interesting. thanx for giving us this new concept by your blog. many of us don’t know about this . it helps.
    david you rock on.

  8. Adam says

    I feel like investing energy and layout space for google +1 will still be less effective than Facebook likes, because it will not have the potential to propagate through a social network.

  9. Karen Young says

    I’m personally getting a bit tired of Google’s megalomania. They behave like spoiled children, always wanting what others have. A fine example is YouTube taking down 1000’s of websites in the Home Business category this week, assuming that everyone in that business is a money-grubbing con. Hundreds of legitimate people have lost years of work. Gone. Although I have already added +1 buttons to my site, after the YouTube executions, I may simply add a Google for Search button instead, at least it might earn me a few pennies.

  10. Michelle Barber says

    As Google Analytics is now able to track social interactions, we at thought we would experiment, so we have started to introduce Google+1, Facebook Like and Tweet buttons on some of our most popular questions and are currently running split tests to see just how much of an impact on engagement it really does have.

    Clearly, it is going to take some time to gain an accurate insight and different types of content (text, images, video) will have different engagement levels, but on the whole, I think its a positive step and one that businesses reliant on online content, would be foolish to ignore.

  11. TedandMark says

    The Google +1 button will be great and this is only the start of things to come. The only problem is that Google does not make it easy for site owners to put it in thier sites unless they know where to put the code.

    We have a great plugin for WordPress that allows you to put your Google +1 button anywhere on your posts or pages with the added benefit of when its clicked, you can reward or even redirect your visitors to anywhere you want.

  12. kevin blumer says

    +1 with Google i wonder if we get google +1 click fraud the same as with adverts i wonder how people them selves take google +1 once it really gets going it should be interesting.maybee we will have to change the way we do seo and facebook

  13. Rob says

    I think Google need to leave the social web to Facebook and Twitter et al, and stop trying to corner every market place.
    I really can't see Google+ competing the likes of Twitter, Facebook and other social sites.

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