Google + what?: Google +1 — What’s all the fuss about?
Many SEO experts have been throwing around the cliche ‘game changer’ and I’ve received many an email from Internet marketers dubbing Google +1 the ‘Facebook killer’. Cliches and predictions aside, what is Google +1 and what can it do for your business? Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far from the information overload.
Adwords advertisements will now have a +1 button next to them (I’m not sure if all search results will have one or just the paid ones, but it seems logical that they will). You will also be able to add a +1 button to your website. Much like a Facebook ‘Like’, if people recommend a website or a company, they can click the +1 button and it will be added to their Google social network. No, not Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, but Google (I’ll explain this later*). As with Facebook share, like, retweet and many other social bookmarking buttons, the number of ‘+1s’ given to each ad or business will be shown next to the button.
As we’ve learned from using Facebook, we are much more likely to ‘like’, use or buy something that people in our network have also ‘liked’. A Google +1 will act like a seal of approval from our friends, family or other connections. This may give some businesses an edge over competitors who have less ‘+1s’.
You’ll be able to see how many people in your network ‘+1′ each listing in Google search results. But the big change will be that Google will automatically place results related to items we have previously ‘+1-ed’ at the top of the page of our returned search results, making search results much more intuitive and personalised (meaning not at all objective, which worries me a little).
This is the SEO ‘game changer’ people are talking about, the premise being that the more ‘+1s’ you have, the more likely it is that your website will rank higher on more searches. The way we search the Internet will become much more intertwined with word-of-mouth and referral marketing.
*To +1 a page you will need to be part of Google’s social network. The site seems like it will function in a similar way to Facebook, the major difference being that you will be able to create ‘circles’ so that you can post something to a particular segment of your connections (say, just your family members, or just your close girlfriends) — functionality that has been severely lacking on Facebook. (Frankly, I’m surprised Zuckerberg and Co. didn’t think of it first!) There’s also a very cool video chat feature called ‘hangout’.
At the moment, Google +1 is in rollout stage and you can only join by invitation (you can get on the list here). It’s hard to say whether people will jump on board straight away. Facebook took years to become a well-known social networking site and another few to develop the depth of marketing intelligence and capability it has today. Google have learned from Facebook’s journey and will start at a much higher level. Add to that the fact that social networking is a part of our everyday life nowadays and that Google is a household name and maybe you will see people migrating to Google +1 in droves. As for killing Facebook, I’m not sure. A lot of us have put many many hours of time and effort into learning how to use it properly and are not likely to abandon it lightly. I think the two will co-exist, at least for the foreseeable future. Google will need some time to iron out the creases and I would expect Facebook to go down without a fight (or a long drawn-out battle).
To learn more about Google +1 – there is some helpful information here about the +1 button, this is a good video teaser for the social networking side of things. Otherwise, there are hundreds of videos on YouTube at your disposal.
If you have more info, questions or opinions on Google +1, leave a comment below or email me. Stay tuned for updates or subscribe to our RSS feed. Once I’m ‘in’ and figure out how it all works I’ll tell you more.
P.S. Yes, ‘plus one’ is really the terminology they are using — a bit less comprehensive than ‘like’. But, like many strange terms before it, I have a feeling +1 will become part of our lexicon. Now instead of saying ‘I ♥ that’ will we say ‘I +1 that’?