It’s been around since the early days of Google Buzz, but Google’s +1 button has always been a mystery to content producers and users in the sense that while its purpose is known – you approving of content, making it similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, the benefit is not common knowledge. Unlike Facebook’s Like button, Google +1 doesn’t share the content on the user’s social stream, so what do we get out of the +1 button?
Google launched “Search plus Your World” service last month. If you are using Google+, you will now be able to search across information listings that is private and shared only to you instead of the public web. Search plus Your World is like a sub-search engine that gives higher rankings to sites that have received a large number of +1s from your network.
Google + Benefits According to Google
According to Google, Google +1 allows people to help Google sort out the web but having a lot of +1s does not necessarily push the content higher on the search result. A +1 acts as a seal of approval. For example, if your search includes a link to a site that has been given a large amount of +1s by people in your Google Plus network, the listing will show your friends names and indicate that they have +1-ed the site. It is the same behavior as a Facebook Like button.
How it Relates to SEO
A site that has been +1d by a user’s trusted acquaintances will have a higher chance of getting clicked. The potential for the link to be shared on other places is also greater. It is the number of clicks that improve the search rank of a content.
The increase in sharing is also a huge boon for SEO. According to SEOmoz co-founder and CEO Rand Fishkin, a recent experiment of their company revealed that there is a correlation between the number of shares a link received and the number of retweets that include its URL with the search rank of the page.
The Take Away
Based on what we now know, the Google +1 button is a very powerful SEO tool, however indirectly. It still requires some traditional SEO methods such as URL structuring, relevant keywords, and link building but it does help.
In a way, Google +1 should be treated as a new SEO tool that will complement your existing practices, instead of an end-all-be-all solution.