Last year when Facebook opened up it’s Open Graph Protocol to website owners and developers, the impact was huge. Up until then, social media mentions were just done on social media–with Open Graph, we in essence, never left Facebook–when we went to another site, if we liked the content, all we had to do is click the like button and it was noted on the target site, but more importantly, it was also posted to the persons Facebook account which gave it exposure to many people who wouldn’t have to opportunity to see the post or page.
The possibility of good content going viral was even made easier with this protocol. It really brought word of mouth recommendations to reality on the internet.
In December, Matt Cutts (Google’s search guru) indicated that they do use social links as part of their rankings algorithm. Here’s the video he released.
Now, this has been taken a bit further. Bing, in association with Facebook, is using Facebook Likes count in their search results. With Bing gaining ground with search, this is something to take note of.
Now, less than two weeks prior to writing this post, Google has added it’s own version of the Like button, called +1. Now in the same way the Facebook Like count is added to Bing results, the +1 counts are being added to Google results. I have some suspicions on what this will mean to search optimization and Google results.
Be a part of my experiment
It is my educated guess that the +1 count on a site will have a dramatic result on search engine rankings. To test this, I have set up the +1 button on one of my sites. It ranks number 5 for the term ppc management. I would like for all of you to go to the site and press the +1 button and I will in turn watch the change in its search results and report back to you what occurred. Just click on the picture of the site to go there. You can see a red arrow where you would click the +1 button.
How to add to your own site
If your site is on WordPress, all you need to do is search for a +1 plugin. If you don’t, just click here to get the code you need to add to your website, it’s pretty simple.
Who is going to win the war?
It’s really hard to say–Google does search well. It hasn’t done social so well–remember Google Buzz? Google Wave? These experiments did not fare as well as they likes. Facebook on the other hand owns social media. Now if Google puts more weight on +1 over likes, it will effect search one way, but social another.
My recommendation would be to do both rather than wait–it takes virtually no time and you surely don’t want to be behind the curve!