Google took another step into the social realm yesterday with their introduction of “+1”. In a nutshell, +1 allows you to endorse items in the search results, as well as see the items that your friends have endorsed.
Do we need this?
Google’s introduction of the product implies that it was born from the dilemma of being faced with too many search results. “When you have lots of options in front of you, it’s easy to find yourself wishing for a bit of advice.”
Google started rolling out the feature yesterday, and it only happens when you’re logged in to your Google account. If you don’t see any +1 buttons in the SERPs, you’ll need to opt in here, but soon everyone will see the +1 button in the SERPs, opt in or not.
“This is pretty cool”
By clicking +1 on an item in the SERPs, you are vouching for it. It’s a “public stamp of approval”. Google referred to it as “the digital shorthand for ‘pretty cool'”. Items that you have vouched for will appear in a feed on your Google Profile. Yeah, you most likely have one of those. Did you forget about that?
Take that, Facebook!
Not only is the +1 button directly comparable to Facebook’s “Like” feature, but you’ll also begin to see items in the SERPs that were vouched for by people in your social circle (Gchat buddies and contacts, as well as friends on sites like Flickr and Twitter… But not Facebook!) Curious who you’re connected to (and how)? Check out the “Social Circle” section of your Google Dashboard.
Even if no one in your social circle has vouched for a particular result, Google says that they may still show how many people across the web have +1’ed it.
Google will soon offer a feature that allows webmasters to place +1 buttons on their content, so viewers can “vouch” for things directly on the site. Facebook has been doing this for awhile – most sites these days seem to have the Facebook “Like” functionality integrated.
Poor content farms
The introduction of +1 is bad news for content farms and other sites with low quality content. Why would people +1 something if they didn’t find it useful? In essence, this is not only another step towards social, but it’s also another step towards relevancy (and overall quality) in search results.
+1 and SEO
So how does this impact SEOs? Google hasn’t actually come out and stated that +1s will effect rankings, but Tom Critchlow pointed out the following line from the +1 page: Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.
This seems to imply that +1 data will have some sort of influence on search results. Being that the feature is still brand new, I’m not going to speculate much further, but only time will tell how this will change things for SEOs.
The inevitable spectrum of opinions
A variety of reactions to the feature have been appearing on blogs (some people feel that Google should stay out of the social altogether) and it’s clear that people are just beginning to get used to the feature. It’s in it’s infancy, but I’m confident that it will develop rapidly.
I’m excited to watch this unfold and see how rapidly people embrace it – things like +1 WordPress plugins can’t be too far off.
Stay tuned to the Wpromote blog for more information!