Google News visitors who are logged into their Google account will now sometimes see socially promoted data on their news spotlight. The data will be promoted if a Gmail contact or a user connected on Google+ has +1'd the content.
This essentially functions in the same way as Google social search, which promotes content shared via +1 or tweets to a higher position on the SERP. The difference here is that:
- Tweeting does not seem to have the same effect.
- The promoted results will not always appear in the spotlight (i.e., it's not a permanent, to-the-top promotion).
While it's been shown in studies of +1's impact on organic ranking that the general SERP is influenced by the social factor, it is as of yet unclear whether the +1 will have an influence on the overall ranking of stories in Google News.
The addition of prominent +1s and an increased importance for the button on Google News continues Google's integration of the +1 button in their core properties. With its deep integration in Plus (Google's social network), these additions serve as a way to reinforce the company's social strategy while matching socially influenced results on Bing; Bing has successfully developed and maintained a partnership with Facebook, a task Google has yet to accomplish.
Do you think the socially promoted stories in Google News will be useful? Is Google pushing their own resources too hard? Where else do you think the Google +1 button should be added or removed? And should social sharing have a strong influence on organic ranking for SERP or News results? Tell us in the comments.