The Relevance of Google's New "+1"
In an effort to keep pace with Facebook's ubiquitous "f", Google is creating "+1", which effectively tries to mimic and even one-up (no pun intended) the fan-page icon.
"+1" is a new symbol Google will begin rolling out on the English version of Google.com over the next few weeks, and people logged into their Google account will notice the symbol following both Google organic search results and paid advertisements. If you click on the "+1" sign, you are indicating this is a website or listing you "like", and those in your circle of acquaintances will see your endorsement if they happen to see the same listing in their search results.
Google's intent with "+1" is to make the user's search experience that much more relevant: they are combining real-time search needs with friends' recommendations typically seen unsolicited and at an inopportune time on sites like Facebook.
Google is hoping to begin integrating non-Google contacts, such as those in your Twitter account, into your Google contact list in the near future. For now, users desiring an effective "+1" experience will need to make sure their Google account is updated and well-stocked with contacts. If you are unsure about who is in your contact list, you can visit the "Social Circle and Content" section of your Google account to check.
If you are an online advertiser, you may be sweating over the thought of just one more marketing gimmick your site needs to contend for. Rest assured, Google wants to make it easy on advertisers and will soon offer a "+1" icon you can place on your website for people to click. Additionally, there is nothing you will need to do to ensure "+1" shows up on your organic listings or paid ads; Google will begin placing them there automatically, although you will need to be logged into your Google Account to see them.
Finally, the big question: how will this addition affect my rankings? Well, we have some good news and some bad news. On a good note, "+1" will have no effect on the quality score for paid advertisements, at least for now. On a bad note, "+1" will be a factor in the way Google calculates its organic rankings. For now, however, talk to your SEO company about how you can ensure your website is not negatively affected by this addition to the Google algorithm.
Contributed by Amanda Finch, VP Operations