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Google +1 – Search Gets Social


By Amanda Patterson, MarCom Manager  


We’ve talked for a while about the implications of social media on the world of search. When Bing introduced their Facebook “Like” results, many wondered if –and when – Google would respond.  

Google has. A few weeks ago Google introduced +1, a feature that allows you to make recommendations to your friends – much like you would on Facebook – for products and services served up in search results. Google +1 is Google’s answer to Facebook’s “Like” button. But, will consumers “like” it as much?  

Here's a brief overview of Google +1:  

Google +1 and Search Rankings  

Currently, Google +1 is not a ranking signal. Certain organic results can be promoted higher on a page based on personalized recommendations– but only if a user is logged in. Similar to Google’s Social Search (which ranks articles and items your friends have liked or tweeted higher on the page if you’re logged in), Google +1 is based on personalized settings. You have to be logged in with a Google profile, so that Google can serve up results based on your personal and social connections. Google’s theory is that results are made even more relevant when they are being promoted or shared by your social network. Thus, search results are improved by recommendations.  

Below is a screen shot that shows an example of the +1 button (to the right search result title), and Google's Social Search results (below the listing).

Google +1 and Paid Ads  

Just as you can “Like” an ad on Facebook, you can “+1” an ad on Google. Clicking on a +1 does not count as a click, however. All ads will be getting this buttons added, and there is currently no way to turn them off.  

+1 and Websites  

Soon – according to Google, in a matter of months – companies will be able to add “+1” buttons to their websites, along with the current Like, Share and Tweet buttons already available.  

Is +1 a plus or a minus for your business?  

Google isn’t a true, enclosed social network, and doesn’t operate as one. But the attempt to integrate social recommendations with search results is a fascinating one, and we’re interested to see whether it takes off. Especially in the industries we serve - Multifamily Housing, Senior Living, Student Housing and Self Storage - where recommendations can play a crucial role in the decision-making process.  

We’ve always stressed the importance of recommendations and referrals to our clients, and it seems that with every new Google initiative and feature they become even more critical. The days of “if you advertise, they will come” are days gone by – your properties need to deliver the experience you’re promising, inspiring customers to refer you, like you, tweet you, follow you, and now, plus-one you. If you’re inspiring that kind of devotion to your brand, these types of changes should be exciting - they present new avenues for  happy customers to spread the word, which translates directly to your bottom line.  

For more details on Google +1 and its implications on the world of search, read this article by Danny Sullivan, and Google’s official +1 page.