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Facebook’s Like Button + Google = +1

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
31 March 2011

Google launched its latest foray into the social space yesterday with the release of their answer to Facebook’s “Like” button, the +1.

Google +1 is already available to use in the US and is appearing next to the results in the SERPs (when logged into your Google account), needless to say they are stepping on the toes of a very big player.

In doing so the implications for both parties are very interesting…

The tactic for Google has been very simple, take Facebook’s relatively straight forward formula of adding a ‘voting’ tool and plaster it across the web on both sites and in the SERPs. The only difference being Google do not need to partner with anybody and can apply this formula almost instantaneously whilst playing by their own rules. By liking a website or search result you will automatically be associated to it and show up in the SERPs as an advocate to anybody else who sits within your Google network. If however a listing which you have searched for does not have anybody within your network associated to it but has received a number of +1’s, Google will simply list the number of people in order to give you an idea of its popularity.

In essence it is a clear indication of Google’s further push towards social search and their desire to use social signals as ranking factors, after all a friend or even a complete stranger’s recommendation will always stand in stronger stead compared to an algorithmic response.

Google have even gone as far as adding the new +1 signal to their paid ads and following their comments regards not being able to switch them off, it suggests they are serious about social signals improving the search experience.

The next step which I have already touched on above is adding the +1’s to websites which will see Google homing in on Facebook’s domination of social “voting”, not only from an on-page real estate perspective but also from a practical sense. Whilst we know there aren’t any web owners who will want to ignore the +1 for obvious reasons, question remains whether the users will ultimately select it over the tried, trusted and tested Facebook button.

The +1 button will almost certainly win “votes” through the SERPs (where it stands alone) but when users are faced with an option between like and +1 buttons on a site, who will they choose….? The draw back here seems to lie in the fact that Google does not share the same popularity as Facebook.

The difference between the two will become more apparent as Google launch this new feature and it becomes embedded in our everyday search queries. But the fact remains that Facebook offers a social platform which appeals to the masses because it aggregates all of our friend’s activities and interests whilst Google does not. That said the +1’s will play an integral role in Google’s weighting of a site’s authority just like links act as a vote of confidence, with that in mind will Google begin rating us based on our authority and quality like they do with links…? Perhaps that is one for the future!

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