What is Google +1 and why should you care?

Google +1

Google +1

What is Google +1?

It is Google’s way of playing social with search results.

How?  Well, think of the Facebook “like” button on your profile or on your company page.  You can also think of all of the various social sharing sites like Digg or Stumble Upon where you indicate which posts you found particularly interesting or entertain.   Toss in a little bit of Yelp and Google Places with customer reviews and you’re beginning to get the idea. Apply that idea to Google searches only instead of reviewing the preferences of strangers, you’ll be viewing the results of people you are connected to through your Google Profile.  Here is an example.

Let’s say you did a search for a beauty salon in your community.  You find a salon site you really like and you click on the +1.  Should anyone you are connected with in Google Profiles do a similar search, they will see your name and the fact that you are basically giving this site the thumbs up or +1. If you have a bad experience and decide change your mind, you can always remove your +1 rating.  You also have the option of keeping your +1 ratings to yourself or sharing them publicly with others connected to your profile.

An added feature is that Google will store all of your +1 sites in your Google Profile.  So the next time you’re wondering which site had that great recipe that made tuna casserole edible, it will be right there at your finger tips.

Does +1 matter to a small business owner?

No one knows exactly how +1 will be accepted, but there are several reasons why small business owners probably shouldn’t ignore it.  One there is the matter of trust.  You and I are not that dissimilar in that we probably trust the opinions of our select friends over the opinions of strangers. So do your customers.  Google’s +1 is a nice way to extend that friendly trust factor.  Think of it as a virtual referral with teeth.

Another reason +1 should matter to a business owner is  there is a high likelihood that when people conduct searches they will gradually begin looking for sites with +1s even if they are lower in the organic search ratings.

Over time it is thought that Google will give some extra ranking love to those sites that have +1 rankings.  Google is already giving boosts to other social networking sites like Twitter, Flicker, Linkedin, so it is pretty safe to assume this will happen to sites receiving +1 ratings.

Isn’t this just like Facebook?

Not really.  Likes appear on Facebook.  +1s will appear on the largest search engine with two-thirds of the search traffic.  However, +1s will have a limited audience as well in that +1 only appears when you’re signed into your Google Profile (essentially any Google account like Gmail or Buzz) and only those who have Google Profiles can participate.

How can I use it for my business?

Consider +1 button as a quickie referral that visitors, customers can leave on your web site. How?

  1. Add the +1 button to your web site or blog and put it in the same vicinity as your other social sharing icons.
  2. Slap the Google +1 in your next newsletter and bring it to the attention of your customers.
  3. Educate your customers about the Google +1 tool and show them how they can help your web site.  Whatever you do, don’t try to put anything over on Google by trying to game the system.  Google doesn’t like such shenanigans and ultimately they always win.

Bottom Line

I can hear the moans and groans…”not another new thing to figure out…enough already”. Yes, I know that just about the time you think you have a system to market online, up pops another THING.

Well, the truth is, no one knows how popular Google +1 will become.  All one knows is that Google remains a big player.  One should probably work with Google rather than ignoring them.  So, my recommendation would be to go ahead and add the +1 to your site.  Explain it to your customers and measure what happens.  That’s what you should do with all of the your marketing efforts anyway.   Google +1 is  no exception.

Additional Google +1 Resources

Here is a Google video explaining +1 and here is the page with the +1 code to add to your web site or blog.  If you have a WordPress blog, then check out this plug-in as it may make the process easier.


Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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