Google Plus One Likely to Effect Search Results and Quality Score
Google is adding its own version of “Like” button with the launch of +1 ( Plus One) in an attempt to make search more social. Now Google will allow users to vote Plus One for search results as well as on Search ads. Users will get to see both the total number of Plus One votes along with names and contacts of their contacts who have shown their preference.
While it looks primarily like Google’s attempt to replicate Facebook’s “Like” what does it mean for search marketers ? A Plus One vote is a clear indication of human preference and there can be no better judge of a webpage’s quality than a real human user. Google is definitely going to use this as a signal in its algorithm. In fact, this time Matt Cutts himself clearly admits to this , “”When someone recommends something, that’s a pretty good indicator of quality,” said Matt Cutts. “We are strongly looking at using this in our rankings.”
Similarly, on the Adwords front, we already know that high quality score would mean lower CPC and better exposure and this is going to get a shot in the arm with implementation of this Plus One feature. Ads that get a Plus One would likely have a higher quality score, resulting in better performance for the advertiser. This has been further confirmed with the statement by ads group product manager Christian Oestlien, “We will provide reporting in AdWords for plus-ones” “Our belief is that advertisers will see increased performance from ads with personalized annotations.”
Inbound links have been one of the strongest signals for organic ranking for a long time now and now as Google has started to become more social , incorporating personalized search results, real time twitter results etc, Plus One is definitely going to be a big step ahead in that direction and can prove to be a key player in determining relevance for algorithmic search results.
Also, looking at it from Google’s perspective, introducing Plus One has multiple benefits. Besides getting a new powerful signal to tidy up the search results, Plus One can actually give Google a second chance to penetrate the social web. When the user tries to hit Plus One for the first time, they would be invited to create a Google profile and adjust the privacy settings. Also, Google would offer publishers the option to embed Plus One buttons to their content pages, so users can vote on content on other websites beyond search results pages and most webmasters would be more than eager to implement this as they realize that Plus One votes can help them get better with organic search results. A positive aspect of this for webmasters would be that to get this Plus One embed code, they would need to login to the Google Webmasters Tools. So the ones who have not yet registered with Webmaster tools would probably have one more reason to do it now.
Everything said and done, it would be fun to see how BlackHats and spammers use the Plus One votes to their advantage. Though Google has been doing a fair job at fighting them, there has been one too many cases where BlackHats and spammers have gamed the Google results and introducing such a simple, manual signal to influence the search results might throw a new challenge for the Google anti-spam team.