Ever since the days of Google Buzz, the “+1 button” has been a mystery for both content producers and users as well. Some people may think that it shares some similarities to the “Like” button used by Facebook, but Google’s +1 button doesn’t actually share content to a user’s social stream. So what is it?
Defining the Google +1 Button
According to Google, the +1 button is a very helpful feature that allows people to share and also discover relevant content from users they already trust and know as well. There are different types of content that users can +1, including ads, websites and of course, Google search results. Once a piece of content is +1-ed, it’s going to become visible on websites with a plus 1 button, in Google search results and in the tab with the same name in their Google Plus profile.
However, it seems that the +1 feature becomes even more important when Google announced they would launch Search Plus Your World. In one of his interviews with the press, Google’s director of product management, Jack Menzel, said that Google Plus users can search not only data shared with the public, but they can also search across data that’s private and has been shared only with them. When it comes to the way results are going to be displayed, those that have gotten the highest number of +1s will of course show up higher in the results. While that’s great news for a lot of users, does the +1 feature affect SEO as well and if so, how? Well, about that we’re going to talk about below.
The Benefits Of Google +1
There are quite a few noteworthy perks for +1 users and one of them is that when a user clicks on the plus one button, the link’s social influence is immediately increased, meaning that the link is going to rank higher (become more relevant) in the search engine results page. On top of that, it seems that websites, posts or any type of content that receives +1s is going to become a lot more convincing, sometimes becoming even more trustworthy and credible than expert reviews. Given the fact that this vote from someone that’s part of a social circle offers annotations, the link is going to stand out in the search results which means that particular website is going to get more traffic.
Another benefit of having a website where the +1 button is enabled is that when users click it, Google bots are immediately notified so they can crawl the page again and index it. So if you had any doubt that introducing this button on your website is going to somehow have a negative impact on search engine optimization, now you know that’s untrue.
The Experiment Performed By SEO Effect
According to SEO Effect (a popular SEO provider), it seems that users who were logged into Google Services couldn’t use the +1 feature and the results were only based on the browser. Therefore, the company’s +1 experiment on the CTR and impressions from search results to the website was unfortunately short lived. Nevertheless, it’s still a very important ranking signal in Google Search Results.
Further into the experiment, SEO Effect noticed that content which was given a plus-one by users became a lot more popular and the particular website it was hosted on received more traffic. Even though the website hosting the content that received plus ones from users didn’t get more impressions, the average position for various KWs increased by up to twenty four percent. This means that those pages got more clicks and the average search position of that page increased by twenty percent.
This means that even if someone is not signed into their Google Account, the results are still going to display the number of plus one votes a specific link has, meaning that its authority is going to be positively affected. On the other hand, if the number of plus-ones for a specific post or page increases rapidly, then Google’s damping algorithm will step in automatically to ensure that the +1s are valid.
Is it an SEO Tactic Worth Considering?
According to most SEO experts, it seems that the +1 is just an added jump to hoop through and also a waste of time. If we look at the stats, we can clearly see that only a small number of users have adopted it, but Google is certainly going to speed up the adoption rate by tilting its relevancy algorithm to achieve that. In fact, many users already expect that to happen, since Google did the same thing with the Google Checkout buttons on AdWords advertisements.
However, it’s important to be aware that this is still a social signal and because off-page search engine optimization is extremely hard given the fact that the Panda update limits a wide range of linking practices, social signals are becoming more and more relevant. In fact, when it comes to off-page search engine optimization, Tweets, Facebook likes and +1s hold a lot of importance.
If they are combined with excellent on-page SEO strategies, these signals can be very effective in giving your brand authority and trust in the ever expanding world wide web. Because there are a lot of people that use Google Accounts, don’t be surprised to find out along the way that social search has a lot more impact than you imagined it would have.
Should You Add the +1 Button to Your Website?
There are many big names in the world of internet marketers, but also many popular websites that have already introduced the +1 button since they know it will help them rank higher. And given the fact there is so much proof it is actually effective at doing that, you should also think about implementing it on your website. After all, the code is quite simple to implement and the off-page search engine optimization benefits far outweigh the few minutes it takes to add the code to your website. In fact, in the first month after you’ll have added it, your website is going to significantly improve in ranking, especially if you already get a lot of traffic.