Google +1 came out in June 2011 and the search community stood around and scratched their heads. What are we going to do with this? Short of Google doing a mass-branding campaign on TV, howwould the world know what to do with a +1 and why would they want to +1 content? Most people can figure out what a Facebook “like” is all about by the nature of the word “like.” They may not know why they are doing it, but if they are asked, why not?
Then Google+ rolls out much to everyone’s surprise and wow, now Google +1 makes sense. We almost have a chicken-and-egg scenario here. Google+ makes Google +1 more than relevant. Now let’s explain why.
Google+ can dominate the average user’s time on the Web in a few months. The plans are to bring all of their properties under the Google+ banner. Blogger, Picasa, Gmail, Docs, Places, Search, you name it. Dare I even say YouTube? There have been rumblings. Now bring into the mix the new Google+ features: Twitter-type updates, Facebook-type social media interface, Foursquare-type location check-ins, as well as their own innovations of circles, huddles, and more.
The estimated stats are that Google+ garnered 25 million users in roughly a month. Facebook got there in three years. Twitter got there in 30 months. This causes several questions to arise: Is this just becauseit is Google? Is it just because of tech geeks (like me) embracing it? Is it because it is the new thing? Chances are slim that there are 25 million tech geeks out there. To put it simply, it is Google and this time it is doing social right. In fact, it seems it is keeping Facebook on its toes by introducing social innovations like video chat and enhanced privacy settings.
So Google+ is the cool new thing, but why is it sustainable? Because this is the next big leap in search! The last real leap in technology for search came from Google’s PageRank. Before Google, search engines focused on content. PageRank brought in the concept of links, link value, and relevancy of links. We have seen innovation over the years with Universal Search, Personalized Search, better algorithms, but no major leaps. This is it.
I teach online marketing classes for USanFranOnline.com. As a live experiment I knew I had students in the class that were connected to me on Google+. I asked them to do a search. They saw the result page. I then +1ed another page that was not on the original first page of results. Within a minute the students refreshed the query and saw at the bottom of page one the result that I had +1ed. Through Google+ and Google +1 search engine results pages can be affected immediately. This is Social Search Integration. This is the next big leap in search.
Links count as votes, and links from authority websites and relevant websites carry more weight. This correlates perfectly with the power of +1. The bigger the social network of the person doing the +1s, the morevalue those +1s will carry. The more relevant to your industry the person doing the +1s is, the greater the weight their +1s will carry.
This is relevant for everyone — including all businesses. Facebook is relevant for lots of business, but outside of Facebook and maybe through its partnership with Bing it is not overly relevant to every type of business. If you run a restaurant or a club, Facebook is probably core to your marketing today. If you sell construction management software, is Facebook relevant? No. Are Google +1 and Google+ relevant? You’d better believe it. Google found the ultimate key to making social media relevant: have it affect Google SERPs.
What is there to do now? Two main things: get Google +1 implemented on your website and try to find a way to encourage +1 usage. Imagine the effect on this article’s ranking if Matt Cutts were to+1 it (hint hint.) Keep your eyes open for the release of Google+ brand pages — though raking in +1s is a preliminary step to brand pages that you can begin immediately.
To wrap it all up in a tight, digestible message, Google+ and +1 are relevant to everyone because they are the foundation for the next generation of search. Google+ and +1 have the potential to open a world of targeting to paid advertisers better than we have ever seen. Can you imagine Facebook’s PPC targeting available from Google? What about the world constantly logged in to Google because of its popularity, and the vast network of sites, services, and content run under the Google+ brand? Imagine being able to fish in a pond that only had the type and size of fish you wanted to catch? I can, and I expect it all to happen faster than anyone anticipates. As PubCon co-chair of content with Brett Tabke, we are very excited to see the online marketing industry’s educational presentations and case studies on Google+ and +1 in November during PubCon Las Vegas 2011 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Hope to see you then.
Joe Laratro is president of online marketing firm Tandem Interactive, and lead moderator for PubCon. Joe Laratro’s full PubCon speaker biography can be read here.
Joe Laratro video interview with PubCon video content producer Vanessa Zamora