Recently Google announced +1 (yes, Plus One, a name even more unfortunate than iPad), their version of the Facebook “like” button. Google says +1 is shorthand for “this is pretty cool or “you should check this out” and that it’s designed to help you “share recommendations with the world – right in Google’s search results.” For expert SEO’s, this is Google’s new version of PageRank. For spammers, this is a dream come true. For users, it’s a shiny button to keep them busy/involved/occupied/distracted. For marketers, it’s yet another To Do to add to your never-ending list.
Here are 7 important things you should know about Google #1:
As it stands today, you need to be logged into your Google account to be able to +1 something. (If you don’t see +1’s yet, sign up for Google’s experimental search site.) When a user clicks the +1 button, their recommendation shows up in their Google public profile. One of the biggest challenges of +1 is that a lot of users don’t even know they have a profile. (If you have any kind of Google account, you have a profile. You can see yours here: https://profiles.google.com.)
+1 will be enabled on all PPC ads. Again, the user needs to be logged in their Google account to see and/or click the #1 button. If someone in your network has clicked the #1 button their recommendation will show up at the bottom of the ad. If nobody in your network has clicked on the +1 but a lot of people in general have, Google will show you that the page is popular. (As with all things Google, this is subject to change.) +1’s will not change PPC rankings. As an advertiser, you will be able to opt out of the +1 program if you’d prefer not to participate. Clicks on the +1 button do not count as paid clicks. Allegedly, there will be reporting on your ads that are getting the most +1 clicks.
+1 will have an impact on your organic search rankings and it could be significant. (Read: at least until the spammers have their way with it.) Google is not being shy about saying that getting folks to #1 your site is going to influence your organics in a positive way. How much will it impact your particular site? It will likely depend on your category and how social your users are. It’s important to remember that even though customers have Twitter and Facebook accounts, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are active with them. Plus, not everyone is a sharer. Nor do all your customers search on their home computers with a logged in Google account. In fact, if you’re at work, chances are good that you’re not logged into your personal Google account.
Google says that in the future, you will be able to add #1 buttons on your site. (They say this will be months, not weeks.) This will undoubtedly be one of the biggest (and best) uses of the +1 program. Unfortunately, it also adds another element for you to work into your already crowded website.
Very few people are talking about this but of all the possible places for folks to +1, your product pages will likely be the most important. You should keep track of which products/services that people are +1’ing. Why? Well, you may be able to do something with that information. Depending on how your customer is using +1, it may indicate a propensity to buy/use your products/services. So, if the person clicks the +1 button and you’re tracking it on your end and you have their email address, you could send them a triggered email. (EBOSI’s – Emails Based on Selected Interest are some of the most successful – and most underused – emails available to you.)
Most people are thinking about the benefits of +1 for their Google rankings but if you’re really on top of things, there are lots of ways you can use +1 to your advantage on your own site as well. For example, you can use your +1 results for merchandising (enhance the content, including videos, for the items with the most +1s); to solicit reviews on particular items; determine which other products and/or services you should recommend to a site visitor; customize a personalized landing page (just think, all my +1’s in one place); promote in PPC; worker harder to improve the organics; and feature more on Twitter and Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook and Twitter, be sure to look at all the other icons (your Tweet This and Facebook Like buttons, for example) you use on your site and figure out which order you want your icons to be listed in. Remember, the first one will get the most attention so prioritize them accordingly.
The bigger the brand, the better the chance they will benefit from Google +1. Why? Simple. The more traffic you have, the more +1’s you are going to get. If you are a little guy and want to make +1 work for you, you are going to need to work at. (Like with orders, if you don’t ask for the click, you’re not going to get it.)
With +1 Google is going head-to-head with Facebook over ad dollars. In the end, the company with the most data will win. Right now, Google is highly dependent on gathering their browsing data through cookies. With +1, Google will be able to find out more information about you, your likes and dislikes, your habits and so on. Depending on how successful the program is, this may or may not be important to you. Google has committed to reporting on the +1 program (at least in the beginning) so use that to your advantage. Look at if/how it’s impacting your organics. Determine if/how it’s changing the way users click on your PPC ads. Figure out how you can use it to your advantage on your web pages so you’re ready when it comes around.