Most Google users will have seen another change to the search results today as Google launched it’s new +1 button in New Zealand. The button has been tested in the USA since March and is Google’s answer to Facebook’s LIKE buttons and a foray into the world of social marketing. The idea is that if a website is popular with users, then it should rank higher than one that isn’t.
Google says that the +1 button will help you find things you’re looking for easier if you see that other people (including your friends) have already recommended them. To be able to +1 things yourself, you need to have a Google account and create a public Google profile. This way, people can see who recommended a boat, website, recipe or hotel – pretty much anything! Your profile is visible to anyone and people with your email address can easily find you.
Your +1 recommended web pages are listed under a tab on your Google profile. You can hide your +1 tab from everyone or show it to the world, it’s up to you.
I’m in two minds about the potential success of the +1 button. On one hand, Google has a lot of catching up to do before it is a real threat to Facebook. On the other hand, Google +1 buttons are only the start of a massive Google+ project aimed at creating a new social networking system that integrates everything Google does with all the functionality (and more) of something like Facebook. Google really had no choice but to do this as it’s only a matter of time before Facebook becomes a major player in everyday web searches – particularly if they align with Bing or Yahoo. I’ll write more about the Google+ project in future articles.
I’ve been watching the progress of the +1 button since it was launched in the USA and I’ve been surprised at the number of +1’s some pages have got. One in particular has over 35,000 recommendations and is growing every day. This tels me that a LOT of people out there are using it and if it becomes mainstream, it will have a huge impact on Google rankings and therefore, enquiries or sales via your website.
You can see a +1 button on a website I developed recently: www.boats.co.nz. If you go there and look at the header, once the page finished loading, you’ll see a +1 button beside the facebook and twitter logos. Click the button and you’ll either increase the score or be prompted to create your own Google profile if you don’t have one. Google +1 buttons can be easily added to your website, so let me know if you want one on yours.
The +1 buttons automatically appear in search results although they don’t exactly jump out at you. If you go to Google and search for “Energise Web“, you should see the screen below (click on the picture to see the search results). The +1 button appears greyed-out, right beside the text link. Considering that very few people noticed the magnifying glass icon (that shows a page preview) right beside it when it was launched early last year, I doubt that the +1 button will get much attention either. So why am I telling you about the +1 button at all?
Simply put, Google is still the King of search engines. If Google launches something, it’s worth taking notice of. The +1 button is only the beginning of the enormous Google+ project and the early bird catches the worm. See the video below for a preview of what’s coming.