Google +1 is Google’s answer to Facebook’s “Like” button
Google +1 is a social sharing button that appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) and can now be added to your web site. Think of Google +1 as you would the Facebook “Like” button. You click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. There are some similarities to Facebook, but Google +1 has some distinct differences that make it more relevant and useful for business purposes.
Here’s a scenario that may help explain the differences:
Let’s say a friend stayed at a great hotel in San Francisco six months ago and shared his opinion by selecting the Facebook “Like” button on the hotel’s web site. His endorsement was automatically made known to his Facebook contacts, including you, through a post on his wall or email alert. Today, while planning a trip to the California wine country, his recommendation might be lost in months of updates or e-mail messages, so it won’t be available to you when you need it most. With Google +1, his recommendation is attached to the hotel’s web site and visible to you when you search for hotels in San Francisco because you are part of his Google network. You’ll see your friend’s personal annotation on the SERPs in the listing for that hotel.
You need to be logged in to your Google account, such as Gmail or Picasa, in order to +1 a web site or see a +1 on a SERP. When a Google user who is signed in, comes to your web site, they may see the names of their contacts that have +1’d your page. If none of their contacts have +1’d your page, they see an aggregate number of +1’s your page has received. This information is displayed in a similar way on SERP pages.
Google +1 can influence buying decisions
It’s a known fact that recommendations from people you know carry additional weight and influence. A recent Harris Interactive poll reports that 90% of people say they trust recommendations from people they know, and 71% acknowledge that reviews from family and friends influence their purchase decisions. Those are numbers worth serious consideration. It’s no wonder that Google wants to get in the trust and influence game.
Because the +1 button is an endorsement for a web site or specific web site content, it’s understandable that it should have some effect on search engine results. Some experts believe that the number of +1’s a site receives will ultimately influence its ranking on Google. That hasn’t happened yet. Google claims that a “plus” is just one of over 250 signals they may use to rank a page. Rest assured though that if these potential SERP changes become noticeable or widespread it will not be until Google has had enough time to watch the response and determine the spam potential that could negatively affect their relevance to searchers. Until then it will be a matter of waiting and testing on their part.
However, a listing that has been +1’d already does carry more weight for a searcher since it now has the social credence of known friends. It’s easier for users to find what they are looking for when someone they know has already found and recommended it. The value of +1 is entirely in the relationships it can show between you, your contacts and your common interests via search results. For this reason, Google +1 will make search results more relevant. It can help your listing stand out, especially if you are not at the top of the SERP.
Here are a few ways you can start using Google +1 now:
- If you don’t have it on your web site, add it now.
- Put it in the page headers, near other social icons, or next to specific content on your page that you want users to share.
- Add the +1 button to your blogs – any web content that can be searched can be +1’d.
- Be sure to have Google Webmaster tools set up on your site so you can track results.
- Encourage showroom visitors to +1 your web site as they leave the dealership.
- Keep an iPad with a 3G connection accessible to allow customers to log in while still at the dealership and the experience is fresh on their minds.
The Google +1 button comes in a variety of sizes, with and without counters that display the number of plusses. Work with your web site provider to add the code to your web site or download it directly from Google. But beware of +1 “sharks” who offer to provide a number of +1’s for a fee. Google is already identifying these shams and shutting them down, so please don’t be taken in by these profiteering scams. There are better ways to achieve reputation management that are both more honest and more effective.
Adding the +1 button can make a good web site experience better and help build strong customer relationships. If you have good, relevant and engaging content, people will want to +1 it. If you provide the best deal and excellent service, people will want to share their good experience. Give them what they want by adding the Google +1 button to your web site.