Finding new, innovative ways to pass marketing messages seems to be getting harder to do every day. Even as technology develops, matures and gets fine tuned, one overriding objective remains clear: how can a company get knowledge of its products and services to its most desirable potential customers?
Social ranking schemes have been around for a number of years, usually showing up on either individual blog/web sites, or on some of the larger social community websites like Facebook, Technorati, etc. The format of these ranking systems are called by different names: Like, Thumbs Up/Down, Rate (number of stars or similar countable icons), Rank, etc.
Search giant Google is now experimenting with its own version of a ranking scheme it calls “+1”. Essentially the system places an icon (a miniature web page with colored tabs along its top and a +1 as the page’s content) next to search results. When a participating user performs a search query, all of the individual results on the SERP have this icon next to it.
The basic idea is that if a specific result is found to exemplify whatever the searcher was hoping to find, they have the chance to recommend it, or plus one (+1) it. By clicking on the +1 icon, the search user has indicated their approval of that link (or more accurately the content found on the subsequent page they are taken to after they click the link).
Although still in the experimental phase, this new service provides some interesting ramifications to the search marketing efforts many companies are currently involved in. In essence, one way to view Google’s +1 is the added dimension of non-partisan approval (or not) of search results destinations.
When faced with a number of options to click on during a search, the user will theoretically be more likely to choose a link that has more votes attached to it. And this makes sense. In addition to the link’s placement in the SERP page (the higher up the page, the more “relevant” Google feels the page addresses the search query) if it has more votes than surrounding links, there is a greater chance it will provide the searcher with the information they are looking for.
In its current incarnation, the +1 system is a net positive one. This means there are not currently mechanisms to vote down a listing. Such negative aspects could lead to the system being played inappropriately by rogue agents hoping to downgrade otherwise perfectly acceptable search results. In theory, a -1 option would provide the means for a company’s competition to effectively vote them down.
Given that only a positive vote or no vote is available, the system would seem to be beneficial to companies and searchers alike. If the content a business is producing gets steady positive votes, it is more likely to find increased traffic to its internal pages via the search results pages. This reinforces the need for a company to continue to generate quality landing pages that provide the search engine users with the knowledge they are looking for.
The one challenge with the system is it requires a user to click the search link, assess the page’s content they are hyper linked to, and then return to the SERP and click on the +1 icon. Whether this extra action will provide insurmountable is yet to be determined as this experiment with Google search is ongoing. To be sure, however, the extra dimension of implicit public approval of a search result link very well may add extra, free, and even more qualified traffic to a businesses website.
Brian Tanner is a freelance writer who takes great interest in keeping up with the latest in search engine optimization and social media. His latest project revolves around enterprise content management.