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What is Google +1 … and What Does it Mean for Your Blog?

This guest post is by Jacob of BlogRevolter.com.

On March 30th, Google announced the release of its latest addition to the search engine, a small button called the +1. As with any Google announcement, there are always going to be implications—both great and not so great—for the average and professional blogger. Understanding the potential effect of Google’s new +1 feature can better help you prepare for the next six to twelve months of your blog.

What is Google’s +1?

In essence, Google’s +1 is a way for people to vote up the results in Google without making it appear like a Digg setup.

In other words, if someone likes the result that they found on Google, they hit the +1 button, then go on with their lives. When someone makes the same search that person made, they’ll see that there’s a +1 attached to the particular search result, and that, at least in Google’s eyes, will encourage them to click on that result.

Should you decide to allow your name to appear, people within your network will see that you, specifically, liked this result. But this last aspect is voluntary.

Why is Google’s +1 important?

For some time now, Google has been talking about how social media and social networking is going to directly tie in with search engine optimization. It used to be that we just built a bunch of links to rank for keywords. But, what I’ve noticed as a SEO is that other aspects are becoming increasingly important, including how a site deals with social media.

We can tie this increased reliance on social media to Google’s quest to provide the absolute best results possible. Here’s an example.

Darren Rowse runs this site about how to make money blogging. He’s got 173,000 readers via RSS, 128,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 23,000 people who like his Facebook group. In other words, he has a ton of readers.

Now, you’re Google and you’re trying to figure out who to position as the top results for the keyword “Professional Blogger.” Sure, someone might have a ton of backlinks, all containing that anchor text, to back up the claim that they deserve the number one result.

But how does Google know that those backlinks are genuine and not, say, purchased? It doesn’t.

The only way for them to truly know if that website is considered an “authority” is to see what people believe. And what better way to do that than track how Darren is doing in the social media and networking world?

The implications of Google’s +1 for bloggers

I look at this update as a powerful move for bloggers. Because we are taught that we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket, we’ve all been focusing on social media, search engine optimization, and other aspects to bring traffic to our blogs.

Now that social media is, in part, connecting to search engine optimization, the amount of work that we do now doubles for both social media growth and search engine growth. But, there is still more to it than that.

Google will be releasing a button similar to the Facebook Like button. And if you click the +1 button, you’ll have automatically given your vote to that search result. You are saying to Google, “Yes, I like this.” And the search engine will remember that.

What this means, as a blogger, is that you need to produce the highest level of quality that you can. If others are getting that +1 and you’re not, are you going to be missing out on potential search rank? I’d say that you are.

If Google believes that it is important enough to create a new button and include it on their SERPs, they are definitely going to take it into consideration when trying to decide which site to put as number one. And, if it’s a difference of +1s that determine who should be first, I’d wager everything that the person with more +1 votes will get the number one ranking.

Since 34% of people click the first result first, and the second to fourth results get less than 34% of the clicks, total, it’s very important to get that number one rank.

How to get ready

Since it was just announced on the 30th, this is obviously a component that will take some time to roll out. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be getting ready for its complete implementation. Here are a few steps to getting prepared.

  1. First, ensure that you are publishing content that is high quality. No longer can you get away writing garbage content, or ripping content from other sites. Google’s Panda Update slammed people with this kind of content and no one will give you a +1 for it.
  2. Second, play around with it yourself when you start seeing it pop up. If you head over to Google’s experimental page, you can join the experiment and be put into the program to start working with it.
  3. Third, don’t start abusing it. One of the things that I think will play a major role in the success of +1 is who’s voting with it. If it’s the same few people, Google might not give those votes as much credit as other pages that get votes from random people. So, don’t start searching for every article you wrote to give it a +1.

Google’s +1 is not a social network, per se. However, it is a voting system that will give Google a better idea of what content people like and don’t like. And, when they release the button for inclusion on your web pages, you’ll have the chance to encourage your readers to +1 your site.

With Google’s love for social media growing, this is definitely an important step in your blog’s growth. How do you see +1 affecting your blog?

Jacob is a 22 year old SEO who works in Manhattan. When not managing SEO for a company, he works on his own network including BlogRevolter.com. He discusses topics such as link building and blog monetization. He is giving away a free ebook on how to get people to your website as well as how to keep them there. Be sure to follow him on Facbook.

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Comments

  1. Just a thought, but it smells like the scheme’s got it backwards.
    After all, a user does a search, follows a linked result, and *then* has to go back to the search result, and click the ‘like’ or ‘+1′ or whatever it is.
    From the way most punters use the net, wouldn’t that mean they’d be unlikely to press the magic button?
    And only those who *want* to promote a site would use the magic button, therefore diluting the true value as it increasingly gets ‘played’?

    • Aaron says:

      agreed. makes no sense

    • Dermott, I just watched the video (on Google’s +1 page) and didn’t really read it that way. It’s not really clear and doesn’t show actual examples (just mock ups), but it seems that you’ll be able to +1 search results and site pages directly.

      It seems like the on-site +1 is kind of Google Buzz revisited? And those hits will show up in the search engine results, too? Perhaps like having a Digg vote show up in search results? That’s what is sounds like to me.

    • Aaron Elharar says:

      the solution for that is really simple.. google is either going to be adding a bookmarking service to the results (so you can go back and see which pages you liked), and/or they can just add something like an i-frame to the page so you have the ability to vote while you’re on the page.

      It’s one of those two or else they’re certainly going to expect a smaller number of likes.

  2. Jauhari says:

    Wow this is what I loowing for, thanks for explaining about +1

  3. It will definitely be important as it will help in recommending the right pages to the searchers.

  4. I think its just something else that theses spammers will try to get an hold of and exploit. But we will see how things go and if its worthy..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  5. Bruce Crews says:

    Thanks Jacob – I’ve wondered for a while what the +1 was all about, but didn’t spend the time researching it. This was a timely article for me.

  6. Tim says:

    This seems a lot like facebook’s “like” button but with search results. Looks like google is trying to find a way to connect people through search results. This could prove to be extremely lucrative to bloggers.

    Thanks for the post!

  7. Steve says:

    I see the logic behind Google’s move but it is another step in the dumbing down process. The audience that reads the more complex in depth offerings are not programmed to click buttons that say things such as “like” and “+1″ and “bestest post eva” therefore the better posts will suffer and those that appeal to the goldfish (eight second attention span) will rise to the top.

    One other minor detail about the post – I suspect that Google has a pretty good method of sorting out organic backlinks from purchased or gamed ones.

    • Gregory C. says:

      Came here to write this, couldn’t have said it better.

      Google thinks this will help, but honestly I’m not sold on it at all, but hey, time will tell.

    • SGill says:

      Absolutely! How can a bunch of people determine whether the content is relevant or authority?

      Consider a scenario, A university professor writes an article about the “the existense of extra terrestrial life”. Gives detailed scientific evidence, calculates the probability using maths and quotes the appropriate references. That’s authroity content and relevant content to the related topic.

      And then there’s a sci-fi fan who writes about aliens and says how cool it would be if there were aliens, and there are aliens out there and the are ‘watching’ us. And this post by this fanatic is rated at the top of search results because he happened to have 1000 followers and they all did a +1 for him. That wouldn’t be such a nice idea would it?

      Like Steve said, it would appeal to people who just skim read the content. And in no particular way it determines the quality and relevance.

      • Debbie Reese says:

        I had the same thought, SGill, about content on American Indians.

        People around the world love/adore/worship a romantic notion of American Indians as heroic, brave figures of the past.

        Truth is, we’re still here, and we’ve been using the Internet to provide people with primary source material. Many Native Nations have their own websites, and many Native scholars (myself included) publish sites that help parents, teachers, librarians, etc. learn how to discern the trendy from the factual.

        People are more comfortable, however, with the romantic notion. Opening the door to us as-we-are creates all manner of anxiety that comes with knowing someone as a person rather than an idea.

    • Thilak says:

      Exactly! The quality of the content is left for luck to pick up. Besides, who will go back to the search results to give a +1? None!

      To overcome this problem, bloggers will add the +1 badge on their site. Most blogs are already cluttered with StumbleUpon, Facebook, and Twitter buttons. This is simply add another overhead to the page load speed, which is again important for better ranking!

  8. It’ll be interesting to see how successful this venture is. Facebook has more of a walled-garden feel to it, so perhaps people won’t feel as safe with +1.

  9. Was wondering how long till we get a post here about what +1 means for bloggers. :)
    Great post Jacob, +1 :)

  10. By the way, if you have signed up on the experimental page, this post would be a great one to test the button on, just google the post title :)

  11. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I just signed up so I could try this out myself. Hopefully it goes over well and becomes useful moving forward. It’s not a new concept of course, but it could be effective.

  12. Himanshu says:

    its just something added to the seo dummy work, it is almost same as likes on facebook but the difference is that google owns it.

  13. Great points here. But here’s my question.

    A user searches for a term and is presented with a list of results. The user clicks on the first result and doesn’t find what he’s looking for so he clicks back and goes to the next result. Here he finds what he’s looking for. After spending time on the page, does the user go back to the results page and click the +1 button? That just seems so inefficient. I don’t see myself personally going back to the results just to +1 a page even if it offers high-value content. Maybe it’s just me. Do you think they’ll include a +1 button on the site itself (very similar to FBs “like” button) that translates back to the results page? I see that being more effective.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Jacob says:

      That’s a great point. Right now, Google isn’t releasing a +1 for pages; however, they are releasing it in the coming months. So, in essence, you’ll have a +1 button on your blog to click. As for going back…It’s the social side of things. You click +1 because you liked it the same as you would post something on your Facebook or click the Retweet button.

  14. Jhay says:

    Isn’t it too late for Google to come up with this? Digg et. al have already went this way. Though I’m more interested in how SEO would ‘game’ this new system to improve their rankings.

    • Jacob says:

      SEO will ‘game’ it the same way they game anything else. And Google will find a way to check what is and is not valid. For me, the only advice I can give is to produce high quality content and keep chugging along.

  15. Thanks to inform us. Now google give value to quality of contents. It realy help for good blogs in top of search. Anyway google rocks.

  16. So in essence, this +1 is what Google Buzz should have been.

    • Jacob says:

      I always thought of Google Buzz as more like a Twitter. I compare the Google +1 to a Facebook ‘Like.’ Since Google has been paying more attention to social media in regards to the SERPs, it makes sense for them to include their own.

  17. Antonio says:

    I just wanted to say I love your website. I read your articles on problogger here and there since you have great articles. Your site always keeps me optimistic that you can make money blogging for a living. For me personally, my goal would be to make a part time income so it could help pay some of my university bills. Keep on the great work!

  18. Nicky Spur says:

    Had no idea this was coming out, good stuff.

  19. bala says:

    Google + 1 is like iPhone4 + 1 = iPhone 5 ha ha ha

  20. Thomas says:

    -Jacob,
    Great explanation on +1! If it took an article to explain it to us, how will others catch on and use +1? Facebook’s “like” button is exactly what it says. I like this article, I like this post, etc, etc. That’s the only question I have with this.

    -Kevin,
    Go Phils!

    • Jacob says:

      The same as how every thing catches on. People see it and try it out. But, I figured since it was just released, getting a bit of a head start, especially as bloggers looking to maximize traffic to their site, would be a beneficial move. Thanks for the comment!

  21. Thanks for explaining that, you did an excellent job. I have read about it before but it wasn’t clear. That makes sense to me and I think it’s a sign of the times..we have to be engaged at all levels if we are to market and win clients or customers these days along with quality. Wow what a novel idea? I am your new biggest fan!

    • Jacob says:

      It’s what makes the business all the more difficult for spammers. I can either A) write crappy content and them try and spam my way to the top or B) write great content and watch as people mention my content all the way to the top. It is harder to write great content, but the reward, in the long run, is so much greater.

  22. This sounds like an absolutely awful idea. I pray for the day when Google just leaves things alone.

  23. Talen says:

    Google +1 will be as meaningless as Google Buzz. Google needs to stay out of social things and stick to search results as they still suck for a company doing search for this long.

  24. Jay Acunzo says:

    I can speak to the idea behind +1 (these are entirely my own words/thoughts and not my employers’) — it lets you essentially Like something but instead of pushing it into a newsfeed where it gets lost, it just pulls up your endorsement when people actually search.

    When you see a newsfeed update, you’re not LOOKING for that stuff.

    For bloggers, this means instead of somebody liking your site and that going into a vacuum somewhere, people searching for “blogs on knitting” or “yankees blog” or “blogging tips” can actually see which of the thousands of options their friends have endorsed..then they’re likely to pick that one.

    Helps sort through the noise and the options. This video is much better at explaining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RyY2-ofP4g

    It doesn’t replace Likes, it just adds to the online social experience…and makes Google search way more social.

  25. IT Rush says:

    Interesting.. let’s just wait and see how this thing works and how important it is in our quest for +1 on the big ‘G’s ranking..

  26. Matt Poc says:

    Wow, from where do you get that information? I am really interested :)

    It looks like search engines may become a social media site, lol.

    For me, it is only better, because I am already doing some social media and my content is always great, what means people should like what they find in the search results and click that +1 button. A nice improvement from Google. Very sensible improvement in my eyes. I am sure this will benefit us, bloggers, who provide tremendous value.

    I also think this should stop people from “tricking” the search engines. Search engines won’t only be computers, but they will be humans as well :)

    I definitely like this Google’s improvement.

    Matt

  27. Mario says:

    I think that this has much less to do with Googles love for social media than with the fact that they want to boost up the relevance in their search results. On more platforms there were discussions going that Googles result sucked lately.
    They will take the combination of votes via the +1 and the search string used into their algorythm. Then they can see what search-term-result-combination was the most relevant fit.
    Further will they use the information of how one voted to serve this person with results related to her vote behavior.
    I don’t see the social media aspect here as I believe that they will not in any manner let it depend on the fact that person A voted similar to person B.

    • Jacob says:

      You make a valid point that Google’s results do suck. Fortunately, Google released their panda update where they get rid of a ton of those crappy results. I think we can expect that more pages are going to be rising that deserve to be up there.

      There have been a lot of experiments done that show that Google has a bit of a love affair with social media. The idea of people voting and spreading the content is really powerful in their eyes because it is the truest form of “good content.” If someone is passing that article, it must be good.

      So, I think that by adding +1, what they are showing is that they want people’s opinions on a site. If a site gets a bunch of +1s, perhaps it is good. If it doesn’t get a bunch, maybe another piece of content is better. Thanks for commenting!

  28. Mario says:

    Sorry, I’ve hit the submit button to fast.

    I want to add that publishing rubbish content never was a good idea. Nor before the +1 was invented nor after it.

    Happy blogging everyone.

  29. Thanks for the post Jacob,
    I wonder how much SEO will be focused on link building etc. It almost feels like this might hurt seo firms especially, because a firm can’t control if the “crowd” likes your stuff.

    • Jacob says:

      What it will do, Patrick, is make SEO firms become honest. Rand over at SEOMoz wrote a great article about the fact that White Hat SEO works. And this falls right into white hat SEO. If you offer value and you make it so that the visitor of the site feels that they got the information they need, they are going to potentially hit +1. Google sees that and goes, “This is good.”

      So, in reality, this will get rid of a bunch of spamming SEOs and leave the rest of us who populate the web with high quality sites.

  30. madlut says:

    thanks for great explanations and advices. I think google also should introduce “-1″ button. So that, if user find the content is crappy, they can click “-1″, in this way, this give indication to other users that reading that content just waste of time. On the other hand, -1 button also can be tools for overcome content with high vote from spammer. What i mean is spammer may make their content getting a lot of +1, but neutral user can reduce the amount of vote once they find the content is crappy.

  31. Jon Baas says:

    I hope there’s some sort of limitation in play. Otherwise, wouldn’t nefarious people (aka, spammers), be able to just hire or coerce large numbers of people into +1-ing something, merely to make that spam link look like it had more value in the search results? If that proves to be a possibility, then the value of this whole +1 social system falls to nothing.

    • Jacob says:

      What’s to stop people from doing that with their Facebook account? Sure, people can game it. But, those that have to game are doing so because they can’t naturally get it. Me? I like naturally getting links and all of that. Limits my work and I can focus on what I like to do: provide quality to my readers.

      • Mario says:

        Not to forget that any gaming strategy like buying others likes etc will never result in more than a very temporary peak of traffic (if at all). In the end it’s always the quality that will rise to the surface. Just like air bubbles in the water.

  32. I think this will be great. I have complained for years about some of the sites that I find when I search. I hope it will clean up some of the information out there so the stuff you actually look for pulls up.

    • Jacob says:

      Google is already doing that. It’s called the panda update. Some sites have seen their traffic drop 80% because of the type of content that they have. I wrote about how to avoid the panda update as a blogger on my site. You need to be careful of duplicate content.

    • mario_monk says:

      Results for English keywords are good in most cases. But if I search something in my native language, I now and them come up to autotranslated content. And it really sucks. Grammar errors, abnormal sentence formation and some words left in English. Real bad.

  33. mario_monk says:

    I guess it’ll be just one more thing to optimise. People are buying backlinks, so from now on they will buy +1′s as well. It will be impossible to gain enough of them naturally. SEO dudes will run way ahead of those who are naive enough to believe that content is king.

  34. How many +1′s will a fiverr get you? It’s ripe for gaming!

  35. Jonathan says:

    If I am understanding this correctly, then nothing has changed really. Clicking the +1 won’t actually affect the rankings, it will simply add a thumbs up sign of sorts to the result?

    We shall see. So far I’m betting on this being a fairly minor development.

    • Jacob says:

      It will probably have an effect on rankings. There have been experiments done to gauge the significance of Facebook and Twitter votes and those have helped rank in search engines as well. So, if you add in the +1, that’s bound to help.

  36. Macy says:

    Good stuff! Thanks for the post and sharing Jacob’s links. I have already subscribed to his ebook on seo for free!

  37. Exactly! It’s going to be a disaster from day one.

  38. Denys Yeo says:

    +1 looks interesting but (in this experimental phase anyway) down here in New Zealand we have been side lined – it appears to be for people in the USA only!

  39. Mikey says:

    Thanks for the informative post. You’ve done your research, and it’s appreciated.

  40. This news sounds very inspiring to me. When I do a search on Google and the first website has an Alexa ranking of 3 million I am wondering what is up with that. True authority sites like this one that has valuable content and a great reputation should be on the leader board.

  41. Tech Crates says:

    +1 is really important to improve the quality of blog posts and increase their SERP rank

  42. Kerry Arslan says:

    Thanks for the information I wasn’t aware of this till I read your post. The one thing that I can’t understand is are people going to click back from your site to search results to click the +1.

    I know I always open a result in search page in a new tab but how many people do. It’s just another of the one hundred things we need to do to keep our rankings.

    I agree with those that say it’s just another thing for spammers and those that are willing to pay for +1 clicks. I think it’s a bad idea to try and build in a search engine with social media concepts. That is not the job of a search engine.

  43. Santosh says:

    That means you can no longer ignore the social media. What will happen to link popularity then? Does this mean that sites that have more +1s will rank higher than those with more backlinks? Or will it be a combination of both?

    • Ali says:

      I think it will be a combination of both.

      I think Google will first see how people react to the +1 – and see if the sites with the most +1s are actually quality compared to Google’s older method (without +1′s) – if they consistently find that the +1′s are doing its job, then they will gradually have more power.

      I personally doubt that – I think backlinks will stay powerful to a good extent. But who knows really…

    • Jacob says:

      It will absolutely be a combination of both. In one year, the Google algorithm was updated over 400 times. That means that there’s no way to know all the details that go into it. Therefore, if you focus only on backlinks, you’ll hurt. And if you focus only on social media, you’ll hurt. Focus on everything–and really just creating great content–and the rest will fall into place.

  44. Very timely article on +1. Much appreciated!

  45. drt says:

    Thanks for the info. It’s good to know what is out there,

  46. illana burk says:

    What a totally killer article! I am one of those ‘stick my head in the sand and pretend SEO is all a big myth’ bloggers. I have been extremely reluctant to attempt to tailor my writing to make robots happy, and have instead relied on social media and word-of-mouth for traffic. I know that I’m gaining a following the slow way, but my readers are super loyal, and I have a really high open rate, so I have always felt good about my anti-SEO strategy. So, for me, I think this is pretty freakin’ great. I, for one, am pretty tired of finding highly optimized garbage at the top of the rankings, and would much rather hear that real people – instead of robots – think I’m great. …oh, and yes, I am aware that my strategy is naive and probably short-sighted. Just go with it.

    That said, I REALLY appreciated this article, because I probably would have ignored the news as ‘more SEO jibber-jabber’….and it turns out, this is pretty nifty!

  47. Allen Walker says:

    Quality content… check! :)

    Things are really changing in the search engine playing field…

    All for the better though.

  48. Aaron Elharar says:

    I see google becoming the bookmarking service biggest bookmarking site online… goodbye digg :)

  49. raviteja says:

    This Google +1 Concept Is Somewhat Interesting And I Think This Will Be Very Helpful For The Rising And Newly Created Websites To Get A Grip On The Search Results Position.

  50. Ann says:

    I guess the more +1′s you get the better your page rank eventually!!