Getting a “+1” doesn’t only apply to guest lists anymore. Google recently launched its new social sharing button, which will compete against Bing’s recent partnership with Facebook and the “Like” button. While Facebook is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, Bing still doesn’t compare to Google in terms of search engine user percentage. Even after last year’s Bing/Yahoo! merger, the two engines combine to make up only about 14% of the total market share in the United States (Google has an impressive 85%). So even though Facebook activity may be influencing Bing’s organic search results, the Bing user base is still relatively small for the partnership to have shown great impact thus far.
With unsuccessful past social media experiments of their own, Google is using their new +1 button as a means of influencing their own search algorithm. The social aspect of +1 comes from the fact that users need to be logged into a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Webmaster Tools, or other Google powered channels). From there, Google users can see which of their friends liked certain content, whether it’s displayed on a link from a search engine results page, or an actual piece of content from a website.
A recent study showed that 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they already know, and 71% of online consumers admit that rev
iews from family members and/or friends influence purchase decisions (Econsultancy July 2009, Harris Interactive June 2010). This data, coupled with the growing popularity of Gmail, and the worldwide popularity of YouTube should help get the +1 button to penetrate the psyche of a large amount of Internet users.
I mentioned above that the +1 button can be applied to pieces of content and search listings, but the +1 button isn’t only limited to organic listings. Paid listings can also benefit from the button. Google separately monitors which people clicked the +1 button using a color coded display, which shows whether a user clicked the button on an organic listing, a paid listing, or on a website. The implementation versatility of the +1 button, combined with the social experience could have a great impact on click through rates for both organic and paid listings.
Google has also rolled out detailed tracking solutions to support the +1 button. In Google Webmaster Tools, a user will soon be able to track detailed +1 activity, search impact, and demographic data. In Google Analytics, users will soon be able to track visits that were affected by social media engagement, which will pull data from all social media sites (Facebook, Twitter…etc).
It remains to be seen if the Google +1 button will catch on with Internet users, but if it does, the tools are in place to revolutionize the Google algorithm and bring social based search to the mainstream.