Saturday, July 30, 2011

Google +1 Button and SEO Ramifications

It is widely accepted at this time that Facebook holds the reigns in the world of social media. Google, on the other hand, has monopolized search marketing but many feel the search engine mogul is inept when it comes to social media. In an attempt to catch up, earlier this year they rolled out the Google +1 button. Individuals in the world of search marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) have been debating what sort of impact Google +1 will have, and whether or not the signal will be incorporated in to Google's ranking algorithm.

The feature itself functions in the same manner as the Facebook "Like" button. Online users that come across something on the web that they enjoy are able to digitally express that sentiment by giving it a +1. All you need in order to do this is a public Google profile, and your +1's will appear in a separate tab within the dashboard of that profile. In that light, your online connections are able to see, for example, your recommendation of that late night pizza joint down the street that delivers until 2 AM. But what do +1's have to do with SEO, if anything?

It is clear that as we progress in to the future of online marketing, social media is going to play a larger role. While it is impossible to determine to what extent Google has incorporated things like having a Facebook profile or a lot of +1's in to a website's ranking positions, I have to believe that on some level it is indeed part of their algorithm on some level.

For +1's, it may not be right now, but certainly in the future after they have compiled enough data to determine the importance of the +1 variable and the value it brings to online search. Ultimately, Google will have to collect enough information to assess whether or not the number of +1's is directly correlated to a company's authority in the world and on the web.

And of course, Google will have to account for +1 spamming, something I am nearly 100% sure that they have already addressed. For example, if I work for a company that has a website, I could hypothetically sit on my computer all day and hit the +1 button next to the URL for several hours. I would guess that Google has worked something in to account for that - for example, where only a certain number of +1's register from a particular IP address in a set period of time.

While a lot of SEO's have made the argument that these types of manipulative tactics will prevent +1 from ever being a legitimate signal, and thus a ranking factor, I have the confidence that Google is smart enough to figure that out. Only time will tell us to what extent +1 will influence the world of search marketing, and I will have my eyes peeled and ears open for more information to what extent - I certainly am not counting on Google for that feedback.

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