Jacob Schpok – On March 30, Google announced they are testing a new feature called +1 (Plus One) their (unofficial) version of Facebook’s “Like”. Businesses who take the time to understand this new feature have an opportunity to leapfrog competitors with little time and money spent.
For years technology publications have been wondering when Facebook will enter into the internet search world and use friends “likes” as a search result filtering tool. Imagine searching and choosing websites to visit based on user Friends reviews, the same way you make purchasing decisions on sites like Amazon. Currently, Bing has “likes” in search results and Google includes twitter posts in search results but neither have changed the landscape of search. It is expected that someday soon page rank will be alter by the number of “likes” a page has so when searching for shoes, Nike may be displayed as the top result for you since your friend Joe Smith Facebook-Liked the new Nike Air Max. Nothing confirmed yet.
Google, on the other hand, has been trying to enter into the social media market with little success (ever heard of Buzz?). So, when the topic of Google vs. Facebook comes up, most tech columnists feel the ball is in Facebook’s court to develop a better search tool using social media and for Google to get their head in the social media world. There have been rumors of Google updating their user profiles to make them more user-friendly (see Circle) but +1 is a whole new direction all together.
So, Here It Is
What This Mean To Your Business
We are still unsure if +1s (pluses?) will improve a website’s page rank on Google but it won’t be long before sites with high +1s will drive more traffic than those without them. With 63.33% of searches worldwide taking place on Google, having customers +1 your site will drive more Google searchers your direction. The new SEO is a popularity contest. The more people who like your business’ fan page on Facebook, follow your staff on Twitter, and provide high reviews of your products and services on Amazon, Angie’s List, and Yelp, the more likely your business is to grow.
How to Optimize the Opportunity
There are still a lot of unknowns as to how +1 is rolling out. Anyone with a Google account (which includes Gmail account holders) can start using +1 now by visiting http://www.google.com/+1/button/. It’s still unknown when a website can add a +1 to their site which will add pluses to Google search results. For the time being, register your business with Google Places, which will help with your company’s page rank, and keep an eye out for the +1 button script to become available. We will keep our Facebook and Twitter followers updated, so remember to follow us. (Twitter: @indiana_sbdc, Facebook: Fan Page)
Jacob Schpok is the Programming Director for the Indiana Small Business Development Center, an organization with the mission of having a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth, and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana, and to develop a strong entrepreneurial community. Jacob can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org.