Google turned the search engine into a social platform Wednesday, unveiling the long-anticipated feature +1 (pronounced Plus One). Social signals pulled from profiles and connections made through Google Buzz, Gmail and other sites are increasing the usefulness of connections. Searchers have the ability to share recommendations on products and services directly from search engine results or ads.
The symbol +1 will begin appearing in Google's search results. Rob Spiro, Google product manager, explains in a blog post that clicking "+1" on a Web page or ad will allow people to share content. Those who want to use the tool need to create a Google profile or upgrade their current one. The profile sllows people to see all the +1s in one place and delete those no longer recommended, Spiro explains.
Adding the +1 button on Web sites could draw more site visitors because friends will see personalized recommendations on search results and ads. The button is available from Google Webmaster Central. AdWords advertisers will automatically see the symbol appear in search ads on google.com.
No changes to campaigns are required to add the button. Advertisers will see the button appear in the coming weeks. The button will initially appear for English searches only on google.com, but Google says it's working to add more languages in the future.
The +1 symbol will not impact Quality Scores or ad rankings, but will be used as signals for organic search rankings, according to Aaron Goldman, CMO at Kenshoo. Advertisers can see how many +1s their search ads get by viewing the Dimensions tab in AdWords. "Soon, Google will allow publishers to add the +1 button to their Web sites," he says.
Goldman says +1 should help paid-search ads stand out as more relevant, as well as improve click rates, but every company should monitor ad performance to see the true impact. As for search engine optimization, professions need to develop a +1 strategy to complement link-building. "I can just hear the +1 farms revving up offshore," he says.
Goldman views +1 as similar to a Facebook Like button, but Samir Balwani, director of acquisition marketing at StyleCaster Media Group, believes the +1 button will become more useful than a tweet on Twitter. "Think about the workflow," he says. Start by searching a term, go to the SERP, click on an article, read it, finish or search on another term, and then start the process all over again before finally clicking on the +1 button.
Sheldon Campbell, founder of Doc Sheldon's Clinic, which focuses on content strategy, says there are challenges with +1. He says every new feature introduced -- no matter how handy -- also opens up new opportunities for abuse, such as review stuffing.