Addressing the changes brought by the Google +1 button and the new Google+ Social Network.

GOOGLE + MARKS THE beginning of a new era in the world of search, which is likely to be based on hard sales (towards the website owners) and social ranking signals. As a newcomer, Google+ offers more or less the same goodies as its competition, wrapped in different packaging. However, unlike other products previously rolled up by Google such as Google Wave or Google Buzz, the Google+ project is likely to be successful mainly because it combines simplicity and innovation with an incentive- based business model. Launched as a Facebook competitor, Google+ is aimed at becoming a global social network, which can provide standardised and structured data to be factored in the universal search algorithm. Google already controls search. Controlling social media would mean that Google is able to spot trends, enhance quality scores, and detect interactions and social maps within hubs and specialised groups and much more, all on the fly.

For the first time ever, in an aggressive marketing stunt, Google warned that the Google +i button is a ranking factor, therefore affecting the SERPs. In my opinion, this approach was meant to address two major issues. Firstly, Google had to brand the service. What could be better than ‘forcefully’ buying-in the webmaster community? Tempted by getting better rankings, webmasters are likely to want to place the +i button on their site, raising awareness among their user base. This would also ensure that the program will not fail in the same way as its predecessors. Those failing to comply would lose, since their competitors might get an organic boost due to the new ranking factor. Secondly, by taking a similar approach as to Facebook ‘Like’ button, Google indirectly ensured that webmasters (due to design concerns and lack of incentives) might ditch the Facebook Like for the new Google +1.

The critical question here is: how can a website owner anticipate Google’s next move and ensure that it benefits from doing so? We can highlight the strategic and operational advantages.
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