Google just announced the release of its latest social media tool aimed at bringing users ever more relevant search results that take into consideration “relationships as well as words on webpages.” The new tool is called ‘+1’ because it is essentially a graphical ‘+1’ that allows users to click on it to express their view that they liked the web page in the search results listing it corresponds to.
Let’s say you click a +1 because you like a particular site you found when searching for ‘commercial draperies.” Now all the people you are connected to through Google (your chat buddies and gmail contacts) will see that a person in their social network made a +1 recommendation. It will appear next to the link in the search results for ‘commercial draperies’ corresponding to the web page you liked. It will look like this: “Joe +1’d this” and will be visible to all the people in your network to see. If you change your mind and want to remove the +1 recommendation, you can do so at any time through your Google Profile page.
This new social media tool is a clear demonstration of the direction Google and the internet is going. Users are no longer passive recipients but active participants, not only in their own search experience, but in the search experience of their trusted social network of friends, family, and business associates. Google regards it as a great asset to users who may be faced with a plethora or choices and are looking for a little advice from a trusted resource, i.e. a person within their social network with whom they already have an established relationship.
Adding a whole new dimension to the power of “word-of-mouth,” Google +1 offers business owners huge potential to reach limitless target audiences through the interconnectedness of social networking. If you are a business user who is taking advantage of Google Apps for Business you already have a significant network of contacts and chat users. +1 recommendations made by any member of your business network could effectively reach those not only within their network but within each of the individual networks of those with whom they are connected. The reach potential is virtually limitless!
But that’s not all. As you monitor the +1 recommendations of those within your business network you begin to understand more about their interests and which webpages they like. You also begin to understand their intent behind the search: eat pizza, buy window coverings for the office, book a conference facility in Houston, and so forth.
In light of the recent admission that social networking criteria impacts a website’s relevance through its ‘authority score,’ it is safe to assume that Google will most likely start to factor +1 recommendations into the authority score as well.
I welcome comments and insights from readers about Google’s latest social networking tool +1 and how it may impact business websites.
Look for my upcoming posts on the concept of ‘intent’ and how it can be applied to successful online advertising.