For several months, Google has been teasing tech blogs with rumors about an upcoming social product to contend with the powers of Facebook. Now, just shy of April first (a date the company is notorious for exploiting), they have revealed the first phase of that product, +1.
The ‘+1’ button is equivalent to Facebook’s omnipresent Like button. For now, the button is in a beta phase, and Google users can test the feature out by visiting http://www.google.com/experimental. Once released, the feature will allow users to thumb up websites on Google search results, or through normal browsing. In the future, Google promises a number of upgrades to the service. Users will be able to see the recommendations of any people in their Google network, and search results will display any +1’s that page has received.
The last feature of this +1 button is perhaps the most important, at least for marketing purposes. Websites and pages that receive +1’s will rank higher in Google’s search algorithm. This is something that has never been offered before, even though Bing attempted a similar approach with Facebook Likes some time ago. SEO marketers are always on the lookout for easy boosts up Google’s rankings ladder, and the +1 button may become the most highly-sought tool in that battle. Further, the +1 feature is likely to change Google’s targeted social ads. Google has hinted that a larger social project is still in the works behind the scenes, so the +1 button may just be the first look at a future social marketing juggernaut.
It’s not all shining praise for Google, however. We are not the first to point out the similarities between Google’s +1 and Facebook’s Like button. Google is a company that has long been considered among the most innovative and unique in the industry, but Social Media has always been its downfall. Wave and Buzz were Google’s earlier efforts to unseat Facebook from the top of the heap, and both have largely failed. At this point, Facebook integration is almost unanimous with web surfing, and Google’s effort may be too little too late. However, if any company has the web presence to wrench control from Facebook, Google is that company, and it is only a matter of time before this internet giant finally rolls out the big guns in the SEO wars.