The new Google +1 feature and its impact on SEO/PPC

If you are web savvy, you’ve probably heard of Google’s new +1 social feature. While it is very similar to the Facebook Like button from a social perspective (basically showing your network which web pages you endorse), it raises lots of SEO/PPC questions.

I will attempt to answer a few below, but please ask your own question in the comment section below for further discussion.

Google +1 paid search ad

Will my paid search and SEO rankings be affected?
The answer is yes and no.
The +1 button will appear on all Google search ads by default. However, you need to be signed in to your Google profile to be able to see/click the button and/or see who in your network has “+1’d” a webpage.
Most people browse the web without being signed in, meaning that most people would not see the button, and therefore the rankings will remain unchanged. This applies to both paid search and SEO.

On the other hand, if someone is signed in to their Google account and performs a search, the +1 button will appear and therefore change how search results are displayed, if someone in your network has already “+1’d” one of the sites in the search engine result page (SERP).
If no one in your network has ever used the +1 function on any of the results, then the rankings will remain the same.

At this stage, paid search ads will not be affected by this new feature either. In fact, Google has announced that their Quality Scores (QS) will continue to be calculated in the same way, using historical Adwords performance data, maximum bidding and relevancy and quality of the landing pages.

However, when Google have accrued a lot more +1 data, it is expected (but not guaranteed) that they will start using it as one of the many ranking factors for both SEO and PPC.

Will we see an impact on click-through rates?
While there is no certainty here, it is very likely that we will. Some advertisers testing out the new feature in the US have already reported an increase in CTR, but it is hard to tell if it is due to the ‘buzz’ and curiosity generated by this new feature, or if the new feature itself has a higher CTR due to the ‘social recommendation’ aspect.

We know however that people are more likely to follow advice and recommendations from their close circle of friends, so I personally don’t see any reason why the CTR would not increase if friends have already endorsed a webpage.

Note as well, that clicking on the +1 button does not equal a click on the actual link, whether paid search or organic.

 

Will large companies with higher brand awareness eclipse small businesses?
Google mentioned that small businesses will in fact benefit from the +1 button. If your company offers a good product or service, or provides a good user experience and satisfaction, there is no reason why you should not have endorsements from your visitors, and therefore company size does not matter.

This could be true, but I still believe large companies that have a good brand awareness will be able to gather endorsement from people in your network more easily than small businesses. I may be wrong, but only time will tell.

 

Will there be separate +1’s for organic and paid search?
The answer is definitely no.
Just like the facebook like button, one +1 button is linked to 1 unique URL.
Therefore, if someone endorses a URL organically (or while browsing the site), the same +1 will be used in a PPC ad if the destination URL is the same.

This also raises a question about optimising landing pages. Will advertisers be keen on doing A/B testing or changing destination URLs as easily, if they know they may lose their +1s for the URL they’ve been advertising for months?

 

In conclusion, it is interesting to see how Google’s response to Facebook Like buttons will impact social recommendations and possibly search rankings. But Google has also experienced a few social flops in the past with Orkut, Wave and Buzz, and this new feature could be just another failed attempt.
We will be covering this topic regularly on our blog so make sure you come back to keep updated,


If you have any additional questions about Google +1, comment down below and we’ll be happy to reply.

June 6, 2011 by Filed in PPC
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