Google +1 for websites is here for a few days, and while some people are still (or again) skeptical, there are quite a lot of webmasters who have adopted the + 1 button almost immediately. The SEO industry has been especially quick to include the buttons. I am among them, while I still don’t use the Facebook like.
I’m not going to shout hooray because Google finally released a button, but nonetheless I can see that it’s the best and the hitherto most important attempt by Google at entering the social media arena. Most others failed miserably and Google has learned some lessons it seems.
The ease of use, for instance, and the quick announcement that the +1 votes will count as a ranking factor, are good signs that +1 will still be here a year from now.
It seems that Google is also adding up the best technologies from its former failed social services and products. I see features from Google SearchWiki, Google Bookmarks, Google Buzz etc. converging.
Google’s own +1 resources
Google +1 was introduced initially at the end of March, and I provided a list of 40 resources back then. Thus here I’ll add only those you need for the actual button. Most importantly, there is the code to include the website button, which is as easy to implement as Google Analytics or even more straightforward. So if you use Google Analytics already, inserting Google +1 is even easier to accomplish.
How to install Google +1 on WordPress, Blogger, Joomla etc.
You can of course add Google +1 buttons to your blog or CMS, either including the code yourself or using extensions, add-ons or plug ins. There are ways to do so on WordPress, WordPress and Thesis, Blogger, Joomla (both a how to and an extension), Magento, Open Cart… For those who want to add the button according to web standards (so that it validates), there is also a small tweak or a bigger workaround for HTML5.
Add your extension, tutorial or how to below in the comments.
Google +1 Extensions for WordPress
While you can include the +1 button manually as suggested above, there are already plenty of Google +1 WordPress extensions. I have tested several of them. There are simple ones, even one you have to save as PHP file to add-ons with multiple customisation options and features.
Choose the one that fits you best and that you trust the most to get updated in the future. I currently use the one by Alex Moss from Pleer SEO. For bloggers who already use a Google Buzz button, there seems to be a conflict and this extension has been suggested as a solution.
How to track Google +1 in Google Analytics and elsewhere
Yoast has quickly come up with a way to track Google +1 votes in Google Analytics. Others have expanded on this script with the actual URLs that got clicked and to consider negative clicks (when someone clicks +1 again to revoke the vote).
Several bloggers have come up with similar scripts. Google has already suggested that +1 votes will both get counted by Google Analytics by default and that +1 will get its own analytics suite, at least according to screenshots shown on a conference. Other analytics tools use their own hacks to allow +1 click tracking: Sitecatalyst.
I’m still on the lookout for Piwik, Woopra and other solutions.
How to use Google +1 on websites that don’t have a +1 button installed
While the quick adoption of +1 buttons on websites is quite impressive, and there are far more of them than Google Buzz buttons already, many sites don’t yet include the button. If you want to +1 them anyway, you need a bookmarklet or a browser extension for Chrome. Of course, you can still vote the site or article up in the search results as well. I haven’t found an extension for Firefox yet, but expect one to appear soon.
Why or why not use Google +1?
Many bloggers argue that it makes no sense to click the +1 button on websites because there is nobody you actually share your endorsement with, at least not directly. This may indeed be an advantage, as you can +1 twenty articles on the same topic in a row without alienating your friends or followers. Theoretically, there are many reasons to actually click +1 instead of liking or tweeting. On the other hand, privacy concerns get cited as a reason not to use Google +1 and Google forces you to join a social network again.
The single biggest reason to click +1 right now is, of course, that it is a ranking factor for Google. So webmasters want visitors to click the button. Social Media B2B suggests informing all your existing connections. Also, Google users customise their search results using +1. They see their own votes and those by friends while searching. Logged out users also see the +1 votes. The first search results on Google for a given keyword displays the number of +1 votes, if there are any.
How does Google +1 affect your SEO and social media optimisation?
Judging from my own use of +1 buttons, I tend to click +1 instead of like on Facebook or tweet it. It easier than sharing on Twitter, and it prevents flooding your followers and friends with your numerous votes. So some people may vote more often now, while the number of likes and tweets may suffer. Another point to remember is that many people tweet just for the SEO of it. Now, with +1 they can go the direct way to improve their rankings – they don’t have to tweet.
Aside from my subjective musing, there have been two very impressive studies, one by SEO Effect to test the actual ranking and CTR impact and another one that analyses the performance of the Google +1 button and the scripts it uses. While the SEO is seemingly improving significantly, the website speed issues are a drawback right now. The Google engineers haven’t done their homework here. Also, there seem to be canonical issues.
I have to repeat here: Google has officially announced that +1 votes will count as a ranking factor. Many in the SEO industry doubt that the impact will be big, but as we see the actual tests show otherwise. So using +1 buttons on your site and encouraging your readers to click them will be a part of link building from now on.
What else you need to know about the Google +1 button for websites
Google +1 buttons are also displayed on YouTube and Google Shopping (products) search results. As of now (June 8th, 2011) only Google.com users can see the +1 votes from their so-called social circle. These might be people connected to you via the various existing social sites like Twitter, Google Buzz, Quora, Friendfeed etc.
Still, so-called social search results seem to be separate from +1 votes right now. Both are connected to the same social circle you can manage on your Google Profile. While Android smartphones of course support +1, it seems that the buttons do not display on iPhones.