On March 3th, Google launched “+1″ as a way to challenge Facebook’s Cross-web “Like” button and how Bing has chosen to use Facebook “Likes” in their search results. The idea is pretty simple. Content recommended by friends and acquaintance is likely more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a Transformers movie review from an expert is useful, but not as much as a friend of yours whose option on movies is always aligned with your own.
Recently, Google’s +1 Button was opened up to the public to add to their own site to help increase a site’s search ranking. That’s a powerful incentive that will likely lead to rapid integration across the web, challenging Facebook’s domination of the embeddable plugin space that has given the social network’s name and logo real estate on many of the Internet’s most popular destinations. As a digital agency, JDM was fast to add this to every news post on our site (see it below).
Google’s algorithm for search relevancy has been shrouded in mystery for more than a decade. It’s unlikely they would allow a social widget disproportionately influence search results. That said, the JDM Labs team will be watching the new offering closely to see if there’s any actual impact on pagerank (more on that will be commented below). Google Webmasters offers a lot of interesting analytics information including number of clicks by you, clicks from others, impact of “+1″ on your site. Additionally, those metrics can be linked to users’ Google Analytics account as “Social Engagement.”
<g:plusone></g:plusone> where you want the button to show up. Google also has a handy wizard for button customization and more integration FAQs here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/
+1′s On Your Site V.S. Google Search Results
The JDM Labs team ran a short, one week study to compare the impact of on-page +1′s versus +1′s from people clicking in search results. The results make sense, though the sample size is incredibly small.
What we found was that +1′s from placing the button on-page generated more than 300% more clicks than in search results. That’s not surprising given that search results do not offer enough information for users to “like” or not what the article is about. The snippet (the few lines of copy below the link) are teasers–not content.
How’s Google+ Doing compared to Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
According to a report by Experian Hitwise, Google+ is already the 42nd most-visited social networking site in the U.S. and the 638th most-visited site on the web. While Google+ is quickly gaining in popularity, it is still minuscule compared to Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, Tagged or even MySpace. Burn!
UPDATE: Website Magazine recently reported that Google Plus is on path to become the second biggest social network in the world. Burn on us!