Google Releases Their Own Like Button. What's Next?

By Nicole Fletcher

Insert YET ANOTHER Google update…none other than Google’s own take on the ‘Like’ button. They’re calling it the ‘Plus one’. It’s goal? To further integrate social into search.

Google will now allow Internet users to vote on search content they find useful and then share that content with their personal connections within their Google accounts. Reports say, the ability to share this social content to twitter is coming soon. In search, people will now see the number of votes in addition to the name and photos of their Google connections who have shared content.
This would definitely be considered the most aggressive integration of social into search to date and we can only expect Google to incorporate the plus 1 button into their algorithm soon. Bryan Wiener, CEP of 360i, says:

“Its important for Google to bring in social influence into search results to prevent the social web from becoming a parallel universe. I do think they need to have the Facebook ‘likes’ in there because you’re going to have two webs, the social web and the open web.”

Interesting point Bryan. Indeed, if Google does not incorporate ‘likes’ into their algorithm, there will be further separating the social interactions that take place on social sites like facebook, from the rest of the open web. While they do of course have their differences, it certainly would be counter productive to compete with one another.

And here’s your answer…

Google’s Principle Engineer for Search, Matt Cutts, said, “When someone recommends something, that’s a pretty good indicator of quality. We are strongly looking at using this in our rankings.”

So far as SEO is concerned, inbound links have been of utmost importance when it comes to page rank. Last year, Google included Twitter updates to aggregate the most recent conversations on any topic. Adding Google’s plus-one will add yet another social component. Basically the point of this update is simple: you would more willingly visit a site recommended by a friend than you would click through the clutter that is modern search. This update makes it easier to find quality content because users are now able to see what their connections have shared.

This though, might not be the biggest part of this update. According to AdAge, “the biggest move here may not be about search at all, but about taking another swing at the social networking business — and at Facebook itself. The first time users clicks on a plus-one button, they will be prompted to create a Google profile, as well as be given the opportunity to adjust privacy settings.” Interesting. Is Google trying once again to compete with Facebook? And if so, will they succeed? Only time will tell. Bing integrated Facebook “likes” into their search at the end of 2010 but NOT into their algorithm itself. What that means is that a “like” does NOT, I repeat does NOT, affect search rankings. Google’s Matt Cutts also reported that Google does not have plans to include Facebook in their algorithm…but they also don’t have the authority to do so. He said, “It would depend on whether that data were available” …so again, time will tell.

In the mean time, keep an eye out for recommended content and small pics of your friends faces in your search results.