Google+: The +1 button, Introduction and How To

Monday, July 11th, 2011 | Business | by

Google+ is important for all marketers and web developers to understand.

Growth in Google+ has been growing faster than anyone had intended (even Google is surprised, and ran out of disk space).

Why is Google+ Important

Like all major internet communities in the past 15 years, they all come to an end.  AOL was the king for years (remember when your AOL IM screen name was just as important as your current Facebook profile?).  After that died off, and AOL became “lame”, we all moved to MySpace.  I remember looking down upon people who still had “@aol.com” email addresses.  As a web developer I was hearing for years that clients wanted to developer their own version of MySpace.

Now, we’re ashamed of MySpace, and many of us have removed our pages (I don’t know if mine is still up, I haven’t logged in in years).  Why didn’t we like MySpace?  It wasn’t clean, it wasn’t professional, and alienated many of our family members (could you imagine putting our grandparents on MySpace?).

Facebook has been all the rage recently.  It appeals to a broader demographic.  You can get your parents on Facebook, along with your grandparents, and some people even have their pets on Facebook.  Fortunately our dog still doesn’t have her own Facebook page.  I’m fighting against it.

We have to plan for the next steps.  Historically companies have peaked, and then gone down hill.  If you are the founder of a company, when do you want to cash out?  At the peak.  Facebook is positioning for an IPO (and many feel it will kill the company).  Zuckerberg is cashing out.

Enter Google+.

Why is Google+ better?

Google+ is supposed to be the next generation social network.  What do they bring to the table?

  • All the standard social network stuff we’re used to (posting, walls, photo sharing, etc)
  • Circles of friends.  This will enable us to be more “professional” online, while maintaining the same level of connectivity we have on Facebook.  You can define your “Professional” circle as different than your “Family” circle.  We won’t see all of our coworkers night out pics anymore.
  • Social chatting  – Google+ has a feature called Hangouts, which will let you have face to face chats (Facebook is going for the same type of thing with Skype now) with groups of friends.
  • Huddle – Like chat groups for your friends via text messages.  When you go out, don’t you wish you could all just have your own chat room for the night via text?

How can they be that much better?  Google has huge penetration into the mobile market with their Android platform, and has the power to fully compete against Facebook.

Leveraging Google’s mobile power, along with their strong online search capabilities I’m willing to bet they will at least be a major player in the next few years.

How do we join Google+?

Google+ is currently in a “field test” mode.  This is essentially a closed “beta” for Google, who is notorious for letting projects stay in Beta forever.

To join, you can visit the official Google+ page, and ask to be “Kept Posted” about invitations.

How do we implement those +1 buttons now?

In the top right hand corner of this website, you’ll see a “Google +1 button” (yes, please click it!).  It’s essentially the same as a Facebook “Like” button.

You can implement those without an account.  They’re going to be important for SEO in the future, as Google has hinted that they will be relying on that information to push your search result positioning up (although they will be slowly doing this).

To implement a Google +1 button, simply:

  1. Go to the “Get the Code” page, here.
  2. Select your Size and Language (if you want more advanced options they should be self explanatory)
  3. Copy the Code from the site (it’s a script tag, and some “g:plusone” code)
  4. Paste the code into your web page / template (for WordPress I ended up pasting the code in the sidebar.php file)

Now what, what does the +1 button mean?

Once you have the button, you can track how many people have +1’d your site’s pages with Google Webmaster.  It’s in the “+1 Metrics” section after you log into your dashboard.  If you don’t have a Google Webmaster account, I highly recommend setting an account up.
When someone clicks on the +1 button, it will integrate with all the Google services.  As more people sign into Google+ (once more invites go out), you will start to see what your friends liked on these pages.  If you Google something, and a friend of yours has +1’d a page relevant to your search, you are more likely to see it.
Google has even said they are considering upping your search engine positioning based upon how many +1’s you have, because it means real people consider your site content relevant.

Now What?

Once you have the button setup, and you’re waiting for an invite to Google+, just sit and wait.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to post a question in the comments section (or visit my Contact page).

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