2 November 2011
2 November 2011,
How Google is Layering Social on Search

Companies of all sizes have relied on old-fashioned “word of mouth” to get referral business for years. With the new “+1” that Google has introduced, Google is taking word of mouth to search on the World Wide Web.

Have you noticed the +1 buttons showing up on Google’s search result pages? You will see them appearing next to regular search listings and in ads. This is Google’s tool for helping you recommend anything you see on the web to your friends.

In addition to the +1 buttons, Google has introduced a new social sharing site, Google +, that may eventually become a real competitor for Facebook.

How can you take advantage of Google+.

I suspect that most of you have a Google account with a Google profile that may or may not be complete. If you don’t, you will need one in order to use both Google + and +1. Sign up for your Google Account and/or establish your Google+ profile. If you want more help, do an online search for the Google+ Set Up Guide.

What makes Google+ different from Facebook? Here are a few advantages:
• If you use other Google products like Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Picasa photo sharing, etc., these will integrate seamlessly with Google+ and all use the same login and password.
• Google+ makes different kinds of relationships possible for sharing—they don’t all have to be two-way. For example, when you add someone to a circle, that means that you wish to see what they are sharing. You do not have to share your postings with them.
• On Google+, you can follow well-known people just like on Twitter. And, you can post not only short text messages, but longer text messages, videos, images, and full links.
• Google+ offers video chat with up to 10 people chatting at once. That is something no other social site provides. Facebook has a new video chat feature but it is restricted to one-to-one communications.
• There is a “What’s Hot” link that allows you to browse postings from a number of active Google+ accounts that have posted interesting videos, links, etc.—even if they are not among your “circle” of friends.
• Google+, along with +1, allows the Google search engine to further personalize your search experience.
And, that final feature is the one that SEOs like me are most excited about.

When you have a Google+ account, and click on the +1 link in a search or ad listing or in a posting that has been shared with you through Google+, that link is archived in a special listing of +1’s as part of your profile. Google uses this indication of preference from you to further personalize your search results.

Let me give you an example. My husband and I have become off-roading enthusiasts here in Colorado. We are interested in upgrading our capacity for this activity by buying a Jeep Rubicon. When I click on the +1 link in a Google search listing about “Jeep Rubicon”, that link is added to an archive of in my Google+ account. These listings are highlighted [and moved up to page 1 of search results] when I search for information about these vehicles again.

But, more importantly, when I do any search, listings that have been recommended by my friends who have clicked on the +1 link also are highlighted. Those friends do not have to be in your Google+ “circles”–just someone whose email address appears in your Gmail contact list. That is how it is possible to build buzz for your business—and potentially to have your website consistently show up among first page Google search listings for key groups of potential customers.

To further enhance your chances of being “+1’ed” by a website visitor, add the Google+ link button to the other social media buttons that appear now on your web pages. If you would like help with that, I can provide the code at no charge this month. If 1st Click Consulting acts as your webmaster, I can offer a reduced fee for my time in uploading the code. If not, I can email it to your webmaster.

Google+ and the +1 link are just a few months out of beta. Google reports that it plans to further enhance the capability of these applications soon, but the reality is that few people have set up Google+ accounts yet. When I used Google+ to search my contact list, I was amazed how few there were that could be found among the Google+ accounts.

Nevertheless, it is worth the 10 minutes or so that it takes to set up a Google+ account and begin using it to promote websites you like—including your own.

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