Google +1 – Is Google Plus One A Game Changer?
So what’s Google +1 and why’s it so important? Well, Google +1 (pronounced Google plus one) is a brand new addition to the infamous Google search engine. Plus one is something that Google’s been working on some time now. In late March this year, they released Google +1 to the public. In essence, +1 is Google’s way of making search results a little more personal. That’s my take on the whole concept anyway.
If you’re an avid marketer or just an average Internet user you should have come across the Google +1 button by now. Basically, +1 acts like the Facebook share or Twitter tweet button with a slight addition. It appears on Google search results and can influence rankings!
Just in case you haven’t seen the +1 button in action, it looks just like this once installed on a website:
So how does Google Plus One actually work?
Well, just think of +1′s as votes. Whenever someone +1′s a website, it counts as a sort of recommendation and shows up next to the page in Google’s search results. Just like this:
This allows users to +1 their favourite search results for others to see. When +1′d, the +1 user shares the website with his or her contacts via Google profiles. Just to clarify… You must be logged into your Google account in order to use Google +1. Still don’t see the +1 icon? Go ahead and visit Google’s experimental search to “activate” +1 on your search results.
No idea what a Google profile is? Well, it’s like your Google social network. With your Google account, comes a Google profile. So whenever you +1 a website or webpage, it will be shared with your Google profile contacts. While I think it’s sort of pointless (I never touch my Google profile), it does have its advantages. Also, as you can see in the above image. It tells you how many other +1 users have +1′d search results.
Just to help you understand the concept, let me give you a real life example. Now I’ve taken this straight from Google’s example here. (they have a semi detailed report on +1, from their view point)
So how is all this information relevant to you? Well, if you’re just the average Google user then this information probably won’t help you. If you were simply curious about all these obscure +1 buttons showing up everywhere, you now know what they do and there is no reason for you to carry on reading.
However, if you’re a webmaster and you’d like to know how you can use +1 to your advantage, carry on reading. Basically, Google created +1 to give it’s users a better experience. At the end of the day, Google wants to provide quality and relevant content for their users. And…
With the current system, that’s just not happening. Why? Simply because marketers know how to “game” the system with black hat SEO and automated link building. Automated link building tricks Google into thinking a website rocks and is really popular. (making it rise in the SERPS)
When in reality it probably sucks, provides little to no valuable information and pitches some crappy product. The truth is that Google has been fighting off marketers for years. Doing everything they can to provide quality on topic information for their users. So really, +1 is Google’s first major step in making their search engine a more “fair”, friendly and social place.
Will this put an end to all the crappy sites out there? I doubt it… I can’t see this +1 thing catching on, it might even be a huge failure. Although I doubt +1 will put an end to crappy websites, I can see it helping some of the quality websites out there that don’t take advantage of automated link building.
So…. Google +1 is being incorporated into Google’s algorithm, therefore influencing website’s rankings all over the web. How much +1 will account for a website’s rankings, I don’t know. However, it’s definitely a good idea to install the +1 button on your website.
It’s actually a little known fact that Google have been using “social data” in their algorithm for some time now. Facebook shares, Tweets and so on, Google are using social data to influence rankings! (Shocking, I know)
So how do you install +1 and take advantage of Google’s latest change? Well, you can manually create a plus one button yourself. Or you can install the Google +1 wp plugin. Once installed, the +1 button will appear above or below your posts (you choose) just like the Facebook share or Tweetme button.
What do I think of Google Plus One?
Well, in all honesty I don’t have much of an opinion as of yet. It’s brand new and over the coming months we shall see what happens. In reality, Google +1 won’t change much. There will always be a new tool invented to “game the system”. If we can prove that +1 greatly enhances rankings, a tool will be developed to +1 websites on a mass scale. (I have a theory this will be soon)
With all that being said, I think webmasters should install +1 on their websites and encourage readers to use it. I’m sure it hardly affects rankings but, can’t hurt to use it. So for now, +1 isn’t an SEO game changer. You still have to follow the heard and build backlinks. And… even if you have a kick ass website full of juicy content, you gotta take advantage of link building tools.
Let’s face it, natural SEO doesn’t work and Google’s algorithm isn’t fair. You’re not going to get enough “natural” links to rank well. So play the game, leverage automated tools and stick to what works. Who knows, maybe in a few years Google will invent something to put a stop to crappy content once and for all!
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