Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Google +1 What, How, Where and Who?: All you want to know about the +1 Strategy of Google

What is Google +1?

Google +1 is yet another attempt to make Google more social. It’s Google’s version of the Facebook “likes”, a simple feature that’s very powerful because it’s part of a social network. Google will show +1 buttons next to all search results and ads, while encouraging other sites to include the buttons. All +1′s are public and they’re tied to Google Profiles.

The goal is to use this data to personalize search results and ads by recommending sites +1′d by your friends. Google Social Search already does this, but there’s no support for Facebook likes, so Google had to come up with a substitute.

It’s a simple way to Like Google search results?

When you’re signed into your Google account, every Google search result will now have a +1 icon next to it (right now you have to activate in Google Experimental). If you find the search result useful or just enjoy the linked site, you hit the +1 icon. Google says by +1-ing a result you’re giving it a recommendation, a stamp of approval. More +1′s on a result means the site is more interesting.

Is it Social?
Yes, it is definitely social. You can see what your friends +1′d which ideally lends more credence to a particular search result. Since Google displays so many sites, these little +1′s will help you sift out the crappy ones (if you didn’t banish them already). Imagine if your best friend found a link interesting and +1′d it. When you stumble upon that in the future, you’re probably going to click it.

Is it a new Social Network?
It is not a social network. When the Google +1 project first started (as Google Me), it was billed to be Google’s Facebook killer. Clearly, it’s not. The +1 system works more like Likes in Facebook or Diggs in Digg, meaning to say it’s a bare bones simple way to show that you like something. That’s good! Google became the king of search because it was simple. +1 is simple.

Will it help Google to target better ads?

Yes, definitely. You can also +1 ad’s, which combined with the data of your usual +1s of search results, will let Google learn more about you and better target their ads. It’s sort of like data research masked as a feature, like when Google offered free Google 411s to improve their voice recognition software, Google +1 improves their ad delivery system.

Google isn’t done with +1 yet. They’ve learned from previous mistakes in Google Buzz and Google Wave where they dug a grave for those products by overhyping them. This time, by starting small with a simple +1 icon only available on Google search results, they can quietly go about their business and slowly add to it (like +1-ing directly from a website, from Chrome, from apps etc.).

Will it change the way we you Google?

Definitely not, Google +1 is another sign that Google wants to evolve into a more social search engine. All those +1′s they keep track of will not only help Google make their searches better, but also make them more relevant to your social circle. As the Internet gets clotted in cobwebs, having friends personally +1 the best sites keeps Google from falling too far behind Facebook and Twitter in social sharing.

 This  +1  is a small button that will reside next to each and every Google Search result. If you like the result, you click the +1 button and it gets shared with your social circle — and the public (more on that in a bit).

The button also works on the ads that appear in Google Search. If you like those and think they can be useful to friends, you can also hit the button there to highlight them. That may sound like something no one would ever do, but the implementation is actually pretty smart. You see, since the pages that are linked to in Google ads also appear in Google’s regular index, if a page has ever been +1′d as a regular result, it will also show up as +1′d in the ad.
But let’s take a step back for a second. Google +1 is an extension of what Google has been doing for a while with Social Search, Google’s Matt Cutts tells us. In their most recent update to that feature, results were surfaced and highlighted when someone in your social circle shared something on a social network like Twitter or Buzz. “People really like this aspect of social search,” Cutts says.
At the same time, the current social mechanisms require some work to be useful — you have to explicitly share a link somewhere. You might not want to do that with every link you like. And that’s where the +1 button comes in, it’s a simple way to indicate you like a page and think it might be useful to others. Again, basically a “like” button.

Cutts wants to be very clear that this +1 data is public. While a big aspect of +1 is sharing results with your social graph (which is still sort of confusing given that Google isn’t an actual social network, so it’s Gmail chat contacts, Reader and Buzz friends, etc) , it is also about using that data in aggregate to highlight better results for everyone. For example, on a result that has been +1′d, you’ll see if any of your friends have +1′d it (in a similar way to the current Social Search look with people’s tiny profile icons under the result itself). But you’ll also see that X number of other people that aren’t in your social circle +1′d it as well.

Google+ updates

How can I keep up to date with Google+ changes?

To preview the latest updates to the Google+ platform, subscribe to the Google+ Platform Preview group. New features will be enabled on your account and announced to this group. To receive updates specifically about the +1 button, please subscribe to the Google Publisher Buttons Announce Group

The +1 button and search results

How does +1 affect search results?

+1 helps people discover relevant content—a website, a Google search result, or an ad—from the people they already know and trust. The +1 button appears on Google search, on websites, and on ads. For example, you might see a +1 button for a Google search result, Google ad, or next to an article you're reading on your favorite news site.

Adding the +1 button to pages on your own site lets users recommend your content, knowing that their friends and contacts will see their recommendation when it’s most relevant—in the context of Google search results. In addition, a user's +1's appear on the +1 tab of their Google Profile. While +1’s are always public, users can choose to make the +1 tab visible or invisible on their profile.

When a signed-in Google user is searching, your Google search result snippet may be annotated with the names of the user's connections who've +1'd your page. If none of a user's connections has +1'd your page, your snippet may display the aggregate number of +1's your page has received.

Does +1 affect my site's performance in search?

Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1's from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1's, as with any new ranking signal, we are starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.

Does +1 affect how Google crawls my site?

When you add the +1 button to a page, Google assumes that you want that page to be publicly available and visible in Google Search results. As a result, we may fetch and show that page even if it is disallowed in robots.txt.

How will the +1 button affect my traffic?

Personalized annotations next to your page in search results may increase your site's visibility and make your site's snippet more compelling, which may in turn increase the odds that users will click through to your page.

To view how +1 affects your search traffic, you can use the +1 Metrics tool in Webmaster Tools. Available metrics include:
·   Search impact: See the pages on your site that received the most impressions with a +1 annotation, and see how +1 annotations impact click through rate (CTR).
·         Activity: See the total number of +1's received by pages on your site.
·     Audience: See aggregated information about people who have +1'd your pages, including the total number of unique users, their location, and their age and gender.

How does the +1 button affect my ads?

The +1 button itself will appear next to your headline on search ads. Personalized annotations will appear beneath your Display URL. For example, Maria +1's a page selling a neat laptop holder on a website. When a search ad with that same URL appears, her friend Sam might see the ad with the note "Maria and 28 other people +1'd this."

Who sees +1?

Who can see the +1 button in Google Search?

The +1 button shows up for signed-in Google users of using a modern browser.

What's an annotation?

Because people trust their friends’ recommendations, personalized annotations display the faces of friends and social connections who have already +1’d a piece of content.

Google tries to display +1’s to people (specifically those in the user’s social connections) who would find them most useful. We hope that by making these recommendations more discoverable, users will be even more engaged with your site.

Annotations can appear in a couple of ways.
·     When a user hovers over the +1 button on a page, we’ll display an annotation showing the faces of friends who have +1’d that page. You don’t need to do anything to make this happen.

·       You can also add inline annotations that appear next to the +1 button on your page. To enable these, you’ll need to update the +1 button code.

Who can see annotations from +1 buttons?

Everybody can see aggregate annotations. Signed-in users also see personalized annotations from:
·         People in your Google+ circles
·         People who have you in a circle in Google+.
·         People in your Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list.
·         People in your My Contacts group in Google Contacts.
·         People you're following in Google Reader and Google Buzz.

Are +1's public?

Yes, Google may show personalized annotations to any signed-in user who has a social connection to a +1. However, any Google user can choose whether or not to display their +1's on their Google profile.

Adding the +1 button to a site

How do I add the +1 button to my site?

Just grab a snippet of code.
Where should I put the +1 button on my pages?

You know your page and your users best, so we recommend putting the button wherever you think it will be the most effective. Above the fold, near the title of the page, and close to sharing links is often a good location. It can also be effective to place the +1 button at both the end and the beginning of an article or story.
+1 is a public action, so you should add the button only to public, crawlable pages on your site. Once you add the button, Google may crawl or recrawl the page, and store the page title and other content, in response to a +1 button impression or click.
Can I place multiple buttons on a single page that all +1 different URLs?

Yes, but you'll need to edit the button code. Use the href attribute to specify the target URL. For example, if your home page has a module linking to your blog, and you want to add a +1 button to that module, edit the value of the href attribute to point to your blog's URL, like this:

What languages is the +1 button available in?

The +1 button and annotations are available in 40 languages.

How often will Google crawl my +1'd pages?

+1 is a public action, so you should add the button only to public, crawlable pages on your site. Once you add the button, Google may crawl or recrawl the page, and store the page title and other content, in response to a +1 button impression or click.

How does +1 work with Buzz? Do we still need the Google Buzz button?

Buzz buttons are used for starting conversations about interesting web content ("Hey guys, what do you think about this news story?"). +1 buttons recommend web content to people in the context of search results ("Peng +1’d this page"), and +1's from social connections can help improve the relevance of the results you see in Google Search. You can use the +1 button, or the Buzz button, or both—pick what’s right for your content.

Some of my users get a security warning when they view pages with the +1 button. How do I get rid of this?

The +1 button code requires a script from Google's servers. You can include this script using either http:// or https://, like this:
If your web page uses https://, some browsers and verification tools will show an error when any assets on the page are called via http://. If your site serves pages via https://, make sure that the +1 button code on those pages also uses https://. (In fact, it's fine to use https:// in the button code for all pages, even if they are only served via http://.)


How can I enable sharing from the +1 button?

You don’t need to do anything to enable sharing to Google+ from the +1 buttons on your site. We've updated the +1 button code so that users with a Google+ account can share your content on Google+ just by clicking the +1 button and then clicking Share on Google+.

Users can add comments, pick the right circles, and share to the Stream on Google+, starting new conversations about your content.

Note: When someone shares your content to Google+, we'll display the URL of your page in the post. If your page isn't yet public, make sure to share it with only a limited number of people. Otherwise, your staging server URL will be visible on Google+.

Can I customize the site description that appears when a user shares my content?

Google attempts to find the most useful and descriptive +snippet to display. If you have marked up your content rich snippets using the vocabulary, Google+ will use the name, image, and description properties from the generic  Thingtype.

Alternatively, Google+ (though not Google Web Search) can use Open Graph metadata to create the +snippet. It can also use the contents of title and meta description tags.

Is sharing private?

+1 is a public action, so Google may show personalized annotations to any signed-in user who has a social connection to a +1. However, any Google user can choose whether or not to display their +1's on their Google Profile. Additionally, users can directly control who they share your content with by specifying circles. As a result, the +1 is a public action, but sharing to Google+ is controlled by the user.



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