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I Know You 'Like'? Me, But Can I Get a '+1'??

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 reviews 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 sildenafil 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.

Thoughts from the Search Desk: Google +1

Social media scored big points yet again last week as Google announced the new +1 feature to its search listings. Essentially, this is their response to Facebook's 'Like'? as it integrates social signals into their search results.  Searchers will be able to select a +1 button listed next to paid and organic search results (and in the future can be placed by webmasters next to content a la Facebook connect) for listings deserving of positive feedback. Why is this important? It indicates Google's continued transition toward weighting personalization and actual user feedback into their results beyond algorithm based indicators such as inbound links.  It is also a direct counter move to Microsoft's Facebook integration into their Bing search results.  Yet it moves one step further in enabling +1 on both paid and organic search listings. At this point distribution of +1 is extremely limited (less than 1% of searches) but will expand over the coming weeks. Initially, my thoughts surround a few topics. How should advertisers respond? The bottom line remains the same. It's rather simple actually - create value for the customer. Provide relevant, fresh content and a quality user experience and you will be liked, +1nd, retweeted, friended, shared and rewarded. Paid search: For advertisers we've relied on CTR as a measure of relevance, adding the +1 feature will help provide insight into consumer perceptions of messaging. Advertisers will be able to leverage this data in their search copywriting. As for other measures, according to Google, Quality Score will not be impacted. Campaigns should therefore be monitored for performance variations as the +1 buttons are distributed more widely. Organic Search: Google's evolution toward personalization is a good thing in my opinion and should be encouraged. Yet, whenever they make changes to their algorithm there are always those that are going to try to beat the system. We can expect a whole new suite of black hat SEO tactics to surface. While I certainly do not condone these antics, they should be acknowledged and monitored. Some general items to note: Google +1 is currently available only by the opt-in method by using the Google Experimental link: http://www.google.com/experimental/index.html A Google profile must be activated. Full +1 functionality will be available when a user is logged into a Google account; When logged out ' users will be able to see the total of +1 votes without the user names Search Results: Paid Search:  All Adwords listings will get +1 buttons. Advertisers will not be able to shut them off; quality score will not be affected.  Advertisers should monitor impact on CTR. Organic: +1 feature will influence search engine rankings based on activity within an individual's social network Reporting: Google Webmaster Tools will be able to provide stats behind both organic & non-paid listings For Webmasters: +1 buttons (similar to Facebook 'Like'? Buttons) next to content are expected to roll out within months and should be added to content Privacy: By enabling the +1 feature, Google will take note of the following: Gmail/Google chat contact lists, Google Contacts, and people you follow on Google Buzz/Google Reader

Some Buzz I've Heard on Google Buzz

You've probably heard by now about Google's latest innovation: Google Buzz. It basically is a social media consolidator which can be easily integrated into your Gmail account. The application pulls in information from all your news feeds, blogs, photo sites, etc'and all this buzz can be 'geo-tagged'?. After several attempts to enter the social media scene, has Google finally gotten it right? Some users are saying they have. So far, the adoption rate of this new product has been huge--with tens of millions of users already participating. Around my campus this week, I've heard some buzz on the Buzz. It seems as though my fellow students are seeing a future where nothing is a secret. Jokingly, one of my classmates posed the question: 'So hypothetically, if you're having an affair and you regularly email your mistress'this interaction is publicized since your most frequently emailed contacts are auto-followed?" Hopefully, this particular problem isn't an issue for most, but I think his concern over infringed privacy is valid. All your interactions are now consolidated into one streaming, publicized feed. This week Google has already taken steps to increase the privacy for Buzzers who are not ready to have their public image be quite so uncensored. With such a huge audience (potentially, all 38 million existing Gmail users), marketers should be paying attention. How are you getting involved in this new social arena?

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