Every time Google makes a change, SEO experts and webmasters all over the world sit up and take notice. In an effort to edge into the social domain more effectively, the world’s leading search engine has instituted +1. In many ways, it is similar to Facebook’s ubiquitous “Like” button; users can essentially endorse content with +1. What effect could this have on SEO efforts?
The “Like” button recently celebrated its first birthday, and their gift: 10,000 websites integrate with the social networking site each day. More than 2.5 million sites have the “Like” feature, and media sites that use the “Like” button see 300 percent more referral traffic from Facebook. Google hopes that +1 will catch on as quickly and effectively. If it does, it could have a tremendous impact on SEO. How?
First, it won’t kill SEO. Naysayers have been saying everything from Instant to Caffeine are “SEO killers.” No; but it will change SEO, as does every algorithm and change Google makes. This is to be expected, and part of being an effective SEO is to adapt to the changes and take SEO to the next level. The +1 may aid marketers in many ways. Here’s an example: you are looking for new running sneakers. You enter in your query; the top two sites are optimized for “running sneakers,” but the second one has a +1, indicating that a contact likes this vendor or product. This, rather than the position, encourages you to click through.
Google software engineer Evan Gilbert says, “The next time your connections search, they could see your +1’s directly in their search results, helping them find your recommendations when they’re most useful.”
Some question, though, whether Google will give more weight to sites that are heavily +1’d or if they will offer users the option to search exclusively for sites that have been +1’d by their connections. If this is the case, Google may be trying to build search by word of mouth type search criteria rather than heavily keyworded content. If this is the case, it poses both great challenges and great opportunities for websites.