Facebook’s “Like”, meet Google’s +1

Google search: Now with your recommendations

Ready to share your opinions on a much grander scale? Then Google has recently launched a new “experiment” for you.

Google has added what it has dubbed “+1” to its search results page. You can easily join this new experiment by visiting the Google Labs. Essentially, it’s Google’s answer to Facebook’s “Like” button, but it happens to be included in the world’s largest search engine.

Google defines a +1 as giving something your “public stamp of approval.” When you +1 something, it will be shared in your Google profile (which is required when joining the experiment), and it will be used in searches and ads associated with that link all across the web.

Google is also working on a +1 button that you can add to your own site. This will give visitors the chance to give their recommendation about your site without having to leave.

+1 and SEO

Having thousands more people “liking” your site would be great, right? Sure. But wait. There’s more. There is an additional — and some would say a far greater — benefit to the +1: Google has said that the +1 data will influence search rankings. Yes. That’s right. The more people who +1 your content, the better chance it has of becoming one of the first results shown for a search.

That is not saying that your page doesn’t need to be highly optimized to rank well for a given search. All of the other good optimization practices still apply. This just may help you hop up a spot or two, and put you in that prime “golden” area at the top of the search results page.

+1 and online advertising

Another interesting aspect of the new +1 feature is that you can actually recommend an ad. Meaning if you like a company’s paid ad on your search results page, you can +1 it. Then, if your friend happens to see the same ad during their search, it will be accompanied by a “Jane +1’d this page” note next to the ad. Being ad people, we of course really like this feature, too. If the pay-per-click ads we help our clients create are both relevant and lead to information searchers see as pertinent, a +1 might just be better than a click-thru.

How +1 changes the game

So what does this all mean? Well, there is a lot to it. On one hand, this is another huge push by Google to enter (and gain control of) the social space. It adds to the other social features currently on the search results page, like seeing what friends have tweeted about a given search.

On the other hand, recommendations by friends will be a lot more appealing to people than having to randomly peck their way through the web. If someone you know recommends something, you are far more likely to use that product or service (or in this case, a website) than one that carries no recommendation at all.

There is a lot more to come in the next few days, weeks and even months. It will be interesting to see if Google can begin to make a dent in Facebook’s popularity. I for one, have been +1’ing already and will try to make it a habit while I browse. How about you?

Video and images of ads with +1′s via Google.


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