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The Google +1 Button
Most bloggers use the Google +1 button these days, and most of us believe it will improve our Google rankings, but how true is this?
A recent article in WebPro News quotes a Google representative stating that Google +1s do not have a direct effect on rankings. However, it seems that Google is working toward recognizing authorship, with the implication that the value of those +1s could increase in the future. So, if you’re using them, keep it up.
My own experience has been that my Google Circles keep growing at about the same rate that my blog readership grows. Whether this means anything, or has any connection with the Google +1s, I can’t tell. What has your experience been?
Google, apparently, intends to focus more on authorship in the future, by which they mean social signals that tell the reader “this person is reputable: you can believe what (s)he writes”. From my reading of the signals, this doesn’t change the SEO rules in any major way. It does mean, though, that there are some things we can do now to establish our reputation, such as including an author’s photograph and, perhaps, a short bio.
Many of the better, more established authors, such as Kim Castleberry, already do this. I admire the way she includes this information at the end of each post as though it were her signature. The secret is to do this without making a blatant sales pitch: I’m working on it for myself!
I shall be traveling for the next few weeks, and may not have much of an internet connection (if any), so plan to spend some of that time reviewing what I’m doing and improving on it. If you come away from this post with one thought, think “authorship”. Thank you Google, for that idea: it makes a lot of sense!
Google virtually controls the search engine optimization (SEO) world today. For many people, when they want information they “google” it – a sure indication that the name has become synonymous with SEO. (In a previous existence, in the UK, I used the verb “hoove” for vacuuming – “Hoover” being the origin of the verb!) Most googlers, though, are unaware of Google‘s virtual domination of the online advertising industry: according to Wikipedia, Google‘s advertising revenue in 2010 was $28 billion.
Google‘s big challenger for advertising revenue is Facebook, with over 750 million members worldwide, and more advertising revenue in the U.S. than Google. Their big advantage over Google is that, rather than targeting people based on their searches, Facebook can use their members’ demographics and social behavior to target advertising. Enter Google Plus and the +1 box.
You see, a lot of Facebook’s strength comes from the use of the “Like” button. Every time you “like” something you’re telling Facebook a little bit more about your interests: have you noticed how this affects the ads that you see? Advertisers can select a fairly narrow cross section of their global audience using Facebook‘s demographics and “like” information, thereby getting a much bigger bang for the advertising buck.
So Google decided it was time to play the social website game, and out came Google Plus, released in May to about 10 million users. So far, it’s still a newcomer, but it won’t be long before we feel the impact. Google Plus has the potential to outstrip Facebook before too long, combining the social nature of Facebook with the SEO capability of Google.
Like Facebook, Google Plus lets you build a profile, put in your personal details, join a community, and connect with friends. And, with the +1 button performing the same functions as Facebook‘s “Like” button, Plussers can approve websites, ideas and products, disseminating their likes to their network (and Google, of course.)
The interesting difference between “+1”-ing and “Like”ing is that with +1 Google can tailor your search results to your +1s. Quite what the effect of that is remains to be seen, but you can bet that it will help Google‘s advertising revenues build even more. Google Plus could signal the end of Facebook‘s social domination, not because it adds much to the social concept, but because of the advertising benefits.
Google, of course, has always used factors such as location and past search history to sense whether a particular search result is likely to meet what you’re looking for. The difference now is that they have access to your likes and also to your circles of friends’ likes. In general, people who flock together on social sites have similar interests: hence Google knows from what your circles like what you might like. Powerful stuff for advertisers!
So what does it mean for us as marketers? I guess the first question is one of timing: when are we likely to see this taking effect? My best guess is in time for the Christmas holiday shopping this year (that’s what I would do in Google‘s place.)
Given that, we only have a couple of months to put together a strategy to take advantage of this new opportunity. What to do will depend, of course, on the type of business you’re in and what your products are, but it seems there is something here for all of us to think about.
Let me know your ideas, and let’s see if we can make this the best Christmas season yet.