One hopes the new tagging element rolled out by Google this week is really not their interpretation of social networking and just another attempt to get its users to do some of their heavy lifting. No doubt the popularity of Facebook's Like button and the ever present Tweet This buttons on most sites' content pages these days motivated Google, but the limitations of how it is passed around shows the hole in Google's social networking efforts.
Google +1 is a marketing ploy more than a true social sharing of information. Google has said it may have impact on the organic rankings, but in reality it is the push on the advertising side that I think Google is more concerned.
There are videos and blog posts - tens of thousands of them in the blogosphere already, and even Google got in to the act and it is the ones aimed at the business sector that reveal the possible true intent of this launch.
Loren Baker at BlueGlass said "With total respect for Google, +1 is no Facebook like until it is taken outside of the parameters of Google and onto blogs, news sites and websites; and into the LIVES of web users, which Facebook has been first to market."
""It is not until +1 becomes a household name and can result in an intricate emotional response like the sharing, or Liking, of information within a social network of friends and family, that we'll get past the early adopters and start to make a real difference, that is - if the end result is having public opinion influence the results of the index or AdWords," Baker added.
Aaron Wall, of SEOBook, said " I view +1 as a starting point. One of the things that Danny Sullivan mentioned about the Google founders was that one thing they wanted more than search was curated reviews from experts. The +1 feature can start off as a basic voting script and over time they can layer more filters on top of it. When I search Google now, when I click onto page 2 of the search results I see a lot of stuff from contacts on Twitter and such. Google can leverage social data as a back up in their search results, on mobile devices to help build social networks, and so on. This starts off as being similar to 'stars in search' but will be far more flexible in terms of being able to rate all sorts of things."
Google wants this to be more about promoting businesses and getting people to sign up for Google Profiles and Google Places accounts. You can't Plus One without a Google account.
Have Google's efforts to build up their Places pages stalled? Does Larry see this as another way to get Google users to do more work for them? Even if this is a failure and a feature they eventually pull back - it will have generated millions of account sign ups - remember Google Profiles have to be public or be deleted by July 31.
Look at their video aimed at business on youTube - it is titled Google Business.
To Google this is no 'social' element to them it means business. The use of it in the organic results are nice - but this method of voting on ads provides insights to advertisers. This is more a push for more granular information for businesses and even a way to start finding people who like your brand.
"We expect that personalized annotations will help users know when your ads and organic search results are relevant to them, increasing the chances that they'll end up on your site. You don't have to make adjustments to your advertising strategy based on +1 buttons, and the way we calculate Quality Score isn't changing (though +1s will be one of many signals we use to calculate organic search ranking). Think of +1 buttons as an enhancement that can help already successful search campaigns perform even better," Google explains on their Adwords blog.
So hey no doubt there is now a need to add it to the SEO efforts, but the information from how it is interacted with your ads could be more important. Who cares if it does not influence the Quality Score - you will be able to see how many peole like a particular ad. There will be a game soon enough to build the numbers of these 'recommendations' as apart from the people in your social circle Google has said it will list a number for how many people in general click the button.
When people see ads which do you think they will click - one with a couple of 'Plus1's or the vendor that has hundreds?
While this is only available in the US right now, this feature will be rolling out through Europe and Asia soon enough and strategies for using it no doubt are being worked out now.
So start your engines, test its impact in the organic results and get ready for the attack in the PPC space. While everyone debates the social aspects of this new widget the smart players will be addressing it in business terms and finding ways to monetize the influence it has on Adwords.
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