Google’s goal has always been pretty consistent: to provide better search results. Often times SEO professionals seem like they’re at war with Google to get the best results for their sites. While this battle may be tiring for both sides, it seems to bring better technology to the table. The latest feature implemented by Google could be a groundbreaking step, or yet another flash in the pan.
What is +1?
I’ts important to know what +1 is, and what it isn’t. It isn’t a tool to bump up search rankings (though I’m sure people have already found ways to game it as such). Google’s new rollout +1 is essentially a “like” button for Google. From their site:
Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages. That’s why we recently started to include more information from people you know—stuff they’ve shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites—in Google search results.
Today we’re taking that a step further, enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results. It’s called +1—the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results.
It’s basically a “like” button that will show up in search results. So when you search for a term, you will see how many people “liked” the page before you even click on the link. This shows you how many people actually find the page useful or cool.
Google has already indicated they’ll be using this a signal, but it’s unknown how much weight it will carry. My guess is the +1 button will have very little effect on actual search results, unless something gets a large amount of pluses. These pages will likely be a part of a much larger site with a large devoted fanbase, and will likely have good search engine results anyway.
Why it could be a big hit:
People like to share things they are interested in, and like others to see what they’re interested in.
When products or features are rolled out by Google, they’re either a smash or a flop, with very little in between.
This could actually be useful to heavy users of Google Profiles.
Why it could flop:
Facebook did it years ago
It provides little value
It seems confusing to average searchers.
Unlike facebook, the things you “like” aren’t as easily displayed.
How Can It Help Us (SEO’s)?
If this new feature takes off and everyone starts using it (I have my doubts) it can be a great help to SEOs. You can encourage your visitors to click this item, and most things like this tend to reach a critical mass. If nobody is “liking” a page then nobody will click the like button. But if a good number of people “like” it then more people will click the like button. This happens on Facebook already. Facebook Pages have to reach this critical mass which is usually around 10,000 people. The road to 10,000 is long and hard, but the road from 10,000 to 20,000 is fast. After 50,000 you can count on the next 50,000 to be faster as well. This is simple human nature and herd theory at work, and I have no doubts it will apply here as well.
My advice would be to add this to your site, and encourage your visitors to click it. You never really know, it could end up really taking off and benefiting us all greatly, Searchers and SEOs alike.