The arrival of Google +1 has dominated search headlines and fueled questions and endless speculation over the past couple weeks: will it rival Facebook's Like button? Will webmasters actually add the button to their sites? Will it flop like Buzz?
Nothing like a new announcement to stop the inundation of Panda update posts. Thanks, Google.
One big question is on many online marketers' minds: is this the death of the Facebook Like button?
Surely, we all know the answer to this question is likely no, but let's examine the implications of Google's new announcement a bit further.
As the leading source of referral traffic Google leads the pack, but Facebook is second, representing about 10 percent. The addition of +1 adds yet another dimension to the search experience. See which users in your connected online space recommend a site, blog post, image, video, etc., directly from a search engine result page.
Logging into Google is required, which does limit the total number of users who will actually benefit from +1. Several million Google accounts exist, but Google isn't too forthcoming with exactly how many are used regularly.
In the end, however, Google +1 may entice more users to click on your sites result over another and with future Twitter or even Facebook network integration, Google +1 could largely affect traffic to a particular site.
Facebook's Like button integration added yet another dimension to site experience and increased sharing opportunities when users are off the site as well. More than 30 billion pieces of content are shared on a monthly basis -- and that number only continues to grow.
Users can see which friends recommend a particular site, blog post, image, video, product, brand, etc., and can see non-friends who do as well. While users need to be signed in to benefit from the Like button, there are more than 500 million users on Facebook -- half of whom log in every single day.
Will Google +1 have a negative effect on the Like button as a referral traffic generator? At this point, no.
Google has yet to roll out a +1 button that can be integrated offsite and it will likely be a few months before they do. Testing out +1 before developing the ability to integrate the button offsite, reach out to publishers, and build a network is the best route to take -- but a necessary one.
Taking another hint from Facebook, Google will now place +1 information in ads. Have a user in your connected online space that +1'd an ad? That information will now show on Google Ads.
This additional functionality certainly rivals Facebook ads, but will it stop advertisers from using Facebook advertising? Certainly not. Depending on your overall goals, Facebook and Google ads are necessary.
User intent on Google and Facebook differs quite a bit. Facebook hasn't claimed to be a search engine, and Google hasn't claimed to be a social networking site.
Each have their own user functions and are expanding as needed. Facebook has search functionality and Google has some social layers as well, but could we live without either or use one exclusively for everything? Maybe some could, but I certainly couldn't!
It might be Google's overall plan to create a one-size-fit-all-the-needs-of-everyone solution, but at this point they aren't saying much on that front. If we look at past experiences (think Google Checkout vs. PayPal), Google +1 may be the start to their rival platform to Facebook.
The Verdict: Google +1 vs. Facebook Likes
It's certainly obvious that Google is looking to jump on the social train in any way they can. While they may have gotten a bit of road rash from the Buzz flop they're ready to try again.
Death of Facebook Like? No.
Rival to Facebook Like? Sure.
Who knows what the future will bring, but it will be interesting to sit back and watch while Google attempts to manage the development of +1 against an existing and quite popular Facebook Like button.
What are your thoughts on Google +1? Do you think it will be the end of Facebook Likes?