where are you ranking?
The More the Merrier!
Until just a few years ago Google, the search giant of the Internet, concentrated solely on refining and improving their search algorithms. In the summer of 2011, however, they introduce Google Plus, a social networking site that aimed to spread Google’s influence much further than their search rankings.
In the year since Google Plus arrived on the scene 400 million users have registered for the service, and those users have found their online experience become more integrated than ever. Their online social presence is now linked directly to search, bringing all of their online activities under one roof.
Since Google Plus was introduced it has seemed clear the direction their search algorithms will move in the future. The investment in Google+ indicated that the search giant would begin to look at social signals in determining search results. After all, why start a social network if they plan for the social space to play a role in their overall business strategy?
This makes sense right?
This supposition was only reinforced with the introduction of Google Plus One, a feature that integrated Google’s social network and their search results like never before.
If you’re not familiar with Google Plus One (or +1, if you prefer), all you really need to know is that it operates, at least on the surface, in a similar fashion to Facebook’s ‘Like’ button.
By clicking the +1 button on any article, story, recipe… basically on any piece of content on the web (including search results themselves), you’re giving that content a personal recommendation.
For regular web users Plus One offers users the opportunity to share content with the friends, by automatically posting Plus One recommendations on the user’s Google Plus profile.
For web marketers, however, Plus One has the potential to be a powerful tool to help promote your content and give you the edge you need in the search results.
Google Plus One in a Post-Penguin World
Where There’s a Will there’s a Way
If there’s one thing the Google Panda and Penguin updates achieved it was to make it much 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 (though a million ‘gurus’ will offer advice).
Google Plus One, on the other hand, is a form of off-site SEO created and given the seal of approval by Google itself. Unless you turn blackhat and decide to simply 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.
In fact 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 times in the past that Google pay attention to social indicators when tweaking their algorithms. It seems likely, then, that +1 has at least a small impact on your placing in the search results.
The Power of Social Interaction
Social Benefits EVERY Time
That said, even if Google Plus One data had absolutely no direct impact on search results it would still be useful to add +1 buttons to your content.
Why? Well, it’s simple. When a user clicks 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 in our minds. If a friend likes a piece of content there’s a good chance you’ll like it too.
That, of course, isn’t the only benefit. Every so often you’ll be browsing the Google search results and you’ll come across an odd notification – perhaps something like ’5 of your friends like this page’. These notifications are built using +1 data, and you’d better believe that they will begin to play a much greater role in the way we use search engines in the future.
You see, Google (as I mentioned at the top of this article) believes that the future of the Internet will involve both search and social. They understand that we use the Internet to connect with friends and family and they know that the best way to stay relevant is to appeal to the social needs of its users.
Your needs are important to us.
The future, then, will see Google Plus One data take on a much greater significance than it does today. While right now +1 is a useful, low-key feature that rarely makes itself visible, the fact is that data is being collected and pored over; decisions are being made, and those decisions will determine the direction of the Internet.
In short, it’s worth taking notice of Google Plus One. It’s already noticed you.
We will take you to the top and beyond.
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Written by: Andrew Kelly