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Google Plus 1 and What it Means for Search

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Google +1First, let me explain that Google +1 is in the experimental stage right now, so it won’t show up in your search results unless you join the experiment. Joining the experiment is easy and I would highly recommend it. You must be logged into your Google account to join the. Once you do, feel free to find this post on Google and +1 this post : ).

What is Google +1?

Google +1 (meant to be said as “Plus One”) allows you to “Like” or “Recommend” a link right in Google’s search results. When you endorse a link by clicking on the +1 button  it can make that more relevant in your social circles. Google has already come out and said that they are looking closely at this as a potential ranking factor. Search results for people in your social circle may favor a site that one of their connections has endorsed.

By hovering over the image below and then clicking on it you can see a visual example of what it looked like when I +1’d SEOmoz’s blog below (If you’re too lazy to join the experiment ; ). What you see below is how Google +1 looks before your mouse crosses the area where the search result is. Once you hover over it, you will see that the +1 button lights up. When you click on it you will see it change and add that you’ve publicly +1’d it.

Google +1 Button

We’ve all known, or at least those of us in the industry have known, that Google was feverishly working towards creating a “social layer” that encompassed all of their massive properties into one combined social experience. Is Google +1 that social layer?

Google has an enormous amount of web properties, the largest online ad reach, and is the leading mobile operating system for smart phones, beating out Apple earlier this year. Common sites we all visit like Google Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Google Buzz, Gmail, Android, and many others will eventually feel more integrated across all platforms.

Is Google +1 going to be considered with the other 200 SEO ranking factors?

Here is what Google says:

“Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1’s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.”

Your +1’s will also show up on your Google Profile:

Google Profile +1

+1 also shows up in AdWords Ads

Much like Facebook ads have personalization when you are logged into Facebook and go to a site that has Facebook elements, you will see your “Friends” who “Like” that page or website as well. This is a very important element to Google in making their ads more effective and increasing social engagement.

Google +1 will show up in the ads section on Google as well. Currently, Google says when someone clicks on the +1 button it will not be charged to the advertiser as a click. I don’t really see any downside to that.

Under your Account Settings you can disable allowing +1 personalization on non-Google sites. Personalization allows Google to tailor ads to you across the Web, based on your Google profile, +1 activity, and social connections.

Google +1 Personalization Settings

Neither Google Places or Google Maps Listings currently show the Google +1 button in this experiment. Mobile search also looks like it’s not included in this initial phase. You can expect that if the experiment bodes well, then Google Places, Maps and Mobile search will have it soon.

If you want to know How to add the Google +1 button to your website you can enter your email address and website at the aforementioned link.

Please add your thoughts in the comments below.

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