By now, I’m pretty sure that almost everybody knows about Google’s +1 button. The +1 button is part of Google’s new social recommendation system, and there’s been quite a lot of discussion on how much impact it will have on search results.
According to a mail we received from our Google liaison the other day though, it’s not just going to impact organic (albeit personalised) results. Google has told us straight out that it’s going to have an impact on paid results as well.
How +1 Works
Basically, the +1 button is a way for Google users (who are signed in), to recommend content (and advertisements) to people that they know, who also use Google.
It’s pretty simple…if you’re signed in to Google when you search, you’ll see their distinctive +1 button along search engine results. And not just alongside organic results, but alongside paid results (Google Ads) too.
Clicking on the +1 button sends a signal to Google that you think this is a good result for their search query. But there’s something else it does too.
The next time somebody you know, (a contact on Google, or somebody who is in one of your Google + circles) is signed in and makes a search the brings up the same (or similar) results, the fact that you’ve “+1’d” it will show up as a small, personalised annotation next to the search result or ad.
Driving Traffic & Social Engagement
Google is “selling” this as a way to drive additional traffic to your site, and to build up social engagement. They say that personal notes telling people that their friends liked this page or this ad will increase the likelihood of other people visiting.
I’m not sure how much of that this will achieve in terms of social engagement. Yes, if you happen to be searching for the exact thing that your friend was searching for, you might be more likely to think the result they thought was good could be relevant to you.
But the internet is a huge place. And people are searching for different things all the time. Your recommendation might carry some weight with your friends. Or the recommendation of somebody famous you’re following might carry some weight with you.
Search Engine Relevance
But I wouldn’t think that it’s going to make much difference in terms of traffic. What I am sure of though, is that Google is going to be using this as an important factor in determining relevance.
So even if your +1 isn’t going to drive hoards of your friends and contacts to the site, it might well be increasing the credibility of your site, or your ad, as far as Google’s concerned.
In our mail from Google, our liaison called it “a simple, free way to boost account performance.” And that says to us that Google thinks +1 is important.
You can read more about Google Ads +1 here.