The Web is about to get a whole lot more social. Yes, MORE. And it’s beginning today.
If you think that’s impossible, consider that Google is finally beginning to socialize search results, which will effectively socialize the largest non-social corner of the Web.
Google introduced +1, Google’s answer to Facebook Likes. Soon you will see
+1 buttons beside Facebook Like buttons all across the Web. And when you click +1, you have the power to influence your friends, coworkers, and connections.
Imagine the possibilities when word-of-mouth and search join forces. Rather than depending upon Google’s impersonal algorithms to deliver relevant info, you’ll have the recommendations of your peers to help guide you.
Check out the video below.
Does +1 Change the Order of Search Results?
I haven’t seen Google divulge whether the number of votes will simply show up beside search results or actually influence the positioning on the page. If no: if your network of social friends haven’t visited any of Google’s top ten results for your search, you simply won’t see their votes until you click back further into the results. If yes: search results with the most votes will rise to the top for your network of friends only. This seems unlikely as an immediate roll-out, but could be in the plans for the future.
What Could Stop Search from Total Socialization?
1. This is all predicated upon one simple factor: personalized search.
If you don’t use Gmail, Google Analytics, AdWords, or AdSense, chances are you aren’t logged into your personalized Google account when you start searching. If not you’re signed on as a Google user, you won’t see +1 recommendations from your network. Google hopes you will log in, because doing so creates a greater opportunity to personalize search results and thus increase conversions (clicks to ads on Google makes Google money).
2. A potential ghost town.
Even if you ARE logged into your Google account, the majority of your social networking friends probably aren’t in your Google network.
Who Is in Your Google Network, Anyway?
Since Google isn’t exactly a social network, you might be wondering which friends you’ll be seeing +1 results from. Fair enough. For now, it looks like Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Buzz contacts will make up your network. If you’re like me, the majority of your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter friends are NOT connected to you through any of those Google properties.
What Does This Mean for Marketing?
First, what WILL happen is that Web marketers like me will suddenly expand their network as large as they can. They’ll invite everyone on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn to connect so they can influence more people with their +1s. This rapid increase of networking will provide Google a Twitter-like network infrastructure from which to increase the popularity of +1 worldwide.
Get ready for the conditional statement.
“If” enough people join in and remain logged into Google for the benefit of +1 recommendations (both to influence and be influenced), SEO will finally have to compete with social media / viral marketing for most impactful passive marketing tactic.
Influencing people will be all the more important, which will make influential social media accounts, viral videos, and blogs all the more important in every company’s strategy. Sensationalism will play a huge role in +1 votes just like it did for Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and the rest.
Companies who opt out of establishing an effective social presence will lose ground to those more open to the hip, the viral, and the social.