Google +1: NOT the internet marketing messiah
Ian Lurie Jun 2 2011
In the last few weeks, Google’s been hyping their new +1 voting feature. Click the little +1 and tell everyone you liked a particular search result.
Then they announced the +1 button. Click that and tell your network about a page you like, right from that page. You don’t have to be on Google.com. Note that I even have it on this post, over on the right >>
But now, the internet marketing world has gone insane. Even more insane than usual. I’m starting to get messages like this one:
I’ve also seen notes in forums: “I’ll trade +1 votes”, sell votes for cash, blah blah blah. Even worse, I’m seeing headlines like “Google +1 changes the game”.
Everyone’s treating Google +1 like huge news. The hype around +1 is now officially greater than the hype around the Panda Update:
Seriously? People that excited about this? Um. It’s a button. That you click. To vote on a page.
It’s not a magic ‘get me to the top’ button.
It’s a social media voting button. It’s Google’s Facebook Like, only not as good, because Google can’t hit anything approaching the critical mass of Facebook. Or even Twitter, for that matter.
Think like Google for a second
Come on, people. SEO and internet marketing require a brain. Just for a second, think like Google. Would they create a button that so profoundly impacts rankings? Something so easy to game that you can spam a few Twitter followers into voting for you and bam, up you go in the SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Pages)?
They might use +1 as a check against algorithmic results.
They’ll use it to suggest other content to you in personalized results (if you’re logged in).
They’ll certainly use it as a signal for spammy sites—if you acquire 10 +1 votes for a page full of dreck one day, and 10000 votes for the same dreck the next, they’re going to take a careful look at your site.
And I bet they’ll use it as a long-term signal of overall site quality: Consistent +1 votes, in natural patterns, across an entire site might imply quality. But you’ll still need all the other signals in place. This is not a game changer.
Yet a lot of ‘SEOs’ and ‘marketers’ (deliberately in quotes) seem to think this is the next Sekrit Formoola Fer Rankings Sukssess.
Are they all dumb?
Actually, let me reorder that sentence: They are all dumb, if they think that they’re going to +1-spam their way to higher rankings.
Yes, it’s interesting…
Is Google +1 interesting? Hell yes, it’s interesting. It’s Google’s 3rd or 4th attempt to break into social media. It may eclipse such previous successes as Google Buzz and Sidewiki. It may become a beacon of greatness outshining even Google Wave.
In all seriousness, it’s well worth putting a +1 button on your site. Why not get the votes? Lots of people have Google accounts. Lots of people will click that little button if given the chance. And it could help, a little, with your search results. It’ll certainly help with your social profile, if this latest social media venture by Google actually succeeds.
Yes, I’m going to have a +1 button on my site. I like it, and the votes mean something. I’m not saying you should ignore +1. Just give it the attention it deserves. No more. No less.
…but don’t fall victim to shiny thing syndrome
The buzz over Google +1 is one of the worst cases of shiny thing syndrome I’ve seen. If you want to help your business, sharpen your SEO skills or otherwise succeed online, you’ve got higher priorities:
- Google Panda, which is still rolling out, still largely a mystery and represents one of the biggest algorithm shakeups in years;
- All of those canonicalization problems on your site;
- The dozens of broken inlinks you’ve got;
- Your 200-link navigation that sucks away authority from every page on your site;
- The 500kb, 250×250-pixel image that slows your site to a crawl;
- Twitter’s integrated follow functionality;
- Facebook’s continued efforts to improve their search functionality—they’re about as successful as Google’s continued efforts to break into social media;
- The real, measurable impact of established social media on SEO.
Or, you could even think about ways to come up with content people actually want to see. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the +1 hype. Treat it as one more small tool.
Not a jackhammer. Or a Marketing Messiah.
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Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More