The world of SEO is always changing, although it seems to be moving at a much faster pace the last few months than it has for a while. With the introduction of the farmer/panda update and the expansion of search algorithms into the social media space, the SEO toolbox has gotten pretty crowded. And SEOs are finding themselves expanding their skill set into areas like marketing, copywriting, content creation, and more. Part of the reason for this expansion is not just the expansion of the algorithms themselves, but the expansion of technology.
As new technologies rise and fall, Google and the other search engines try to stay abreast of what is going on and how new technology and new web platforms can contribute to page rank and help with search engine results. Although it took Google and Bing a while to realize that adding social elements to a search could have positive outcomes for users, perhaps that announcement—in some part—came from what Google was hatching next: +1.
Google has introduced many applications and platforms over the years in hopes of becoming the end-all-be-all of the internet. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), they have not succeed in taking over the internet for us. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others have nicely divided up the pie so that we, the users, can use the best tools for the job. Google Wave is dead and Google Buzz, although not technically dead, isn’t really catching on. However, Google keeps trying.
Although Facebook introduced the Like button some time ago, Google has now come up with its answer: +1. +1 (pronounced “plus one”) is kind of like a Like button for search and will soon come in a nifty little button you can out on your website—just like the Like button.
The problem, in Google’s eyes is that the Facebook Like button is nice; however, it can only give a boost to sites that voluntarily put it on their site. The Google +1 button on the other hand is available for the whole internet. The main difference being that the Like button has to be implemented on a site, but +1 appears directly in search results. Thus anyone can click the +1 button on any site on the internet—regardless of whether the site owner has placed at +1 button on their site or not.
Of course the implications of this are huge. Not only can users see how many people have +1’d a website in the search results, but Google can collect loads of valuable information about user preferences—directly measuring which sites users found useful and which they found useless. So, kudos to Google for finding a new way to measure website quality on the internet—by outsourcing it to us.
But as a website owner you’re probably less concerned about what that little button does and more concerned about the implications it will have on your site’s SEO.
Google and the other search engines have been moving away from a search model that places heavy emphasis on site content and moving toward one that is more heavily dependent on backlinks and site popularity (part of which is measured through social media likes/shares and links). The +1 button is just another move in that direction, so you can bet that Google will take it’s own +1 data into account when calculating search results, SEO, and page rank.
As of right now, it is too early to tell exactly what effect the +1 button will have on your site SEO, but it is fair to say that Google might weigh their own tool more heavily than tools from other social media networks. But that’s just a hunch. The fact that the +1 button can be deployed on ANY site on the internet certainly gives the statistics from such a button a wider range than a button that is only deployed voluntarily on a handful of sites (relatively speaking).
Taking all this into account, it is safe the say that the +1 button could have a very large impact on your SEO and your ranking on any search results page. If Google is moving in a direction where users have the most power in determining which websites are the most useful, then the +1 button could be the very thing that finally separates the men from the boys, and SEOs have just found another statistic to track and focus on.
Of course, at this point any theories on the +1 button are pure speculation. It’s in a limited rollout right now and will slowly spread across the internet over the next few months or so. And the +1 button that site owners can put on their site is still a little way off as well. However, despite the limited reach of the +1 button right now, any site owner or SEO should expect to start using the +1 button to their advantage—if nothing else, in order to get a jump on the competition.
The +1 button is just another evolution in the search engine world. Ultimately, Google’s mission is to give users the best search results it can, and using data culled directly from users is the next step in the evolutionary process.
As the +1 button rolls out across the world over the next few weeks, be on the lookout. Use it. Get to know it. And be the first of your competitors to boost your SEO by becoming the most +1’d site on the internet.
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