So it’s official: Google has launched a major new feature to its search functionality, called +1, designed to act as a recommendation with shared social connections in a similar way to Facebook’s ‘Like’ button.
So far this nifty feature is available only to users in the US who have opted-in to the beta Google experiment and it’s limited organic and paid searches, but the Mountanview giant has already announced that in time (months rather than weeks) it will be possible to integrate +1 directly into web pages in the same way as ‘Like’ and ‘Tweet’ buttons are today. It is also expected that +1 data for organic listings will be available via Google Webmaster Tools in due course.
However, the major caveat is that , even when +1 is fully rolled out, Google’s view of social connections will be based on the user’s Google Profile and (eventually) the 3rd party social networks he/she chooses to connect to it (e.g Twitter or Flickr – but not Facebook). This means that, as Google’s account user base is far lower than that of Facebook, the volume of Google users who will actually see, use or be influenced by +1 results remains to be seen.
At bigmouthmedia we still expected it to have a significant impact. From a PPC perspective, +1’d ads are expected to receive higher CTR than those without, something we already see with ‘Liked’ ads on Facebook. Perhaps more interestingly, Google has confirmed that “we’ll look at it (+1 data) as a potential signal to improve search quality…”, which means it will be yet another signal within its organic search ranking algorithm – obviously a significant consideration for SEO. There is no confirmation as of yet whether it will be included within Quality Score calculations though.
This is an exciting development by Google, and if you haven’t done it yet we recommend that you check out what Google and Google AdWords themselves say about how it will impact search results. Search Engine Land has also made some interesting comments about the feature. We’re investigating further the impact of +1 on search campaigns, so watch this space for further updates.