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Google never rests: today they added a new feature called ‘+1’ that lets people share their recommendations for businesses, websites/pages, articles, etc., by clicking a new ‘+1’ icon on webpages/sites or ads they find cool, useful or they just plain recommend. Starting this afternoon (in experiment mode) those recommendations will show up to their friends, family and social connections (i.e., connections in Gchat, Gmail, Google Reader, Buzz – and soon Twitter). Searchers will see all the +1 votes that webpage or business has gathered, and the names and photos of the ‘likers.’
As publications like Ad Age have noted, the move represents Google’s most aggressive to date into social search and it’s the first time they will have baked DIRECT social signals into the search results. Ad Age argues that over time the search giant will integrate the +1 into the search algorithm, so these human votes will impact the organic search rankings. What they said exactly is: “We are strongly looking at using this in our rankings.” Read the Ad Age analysis here: http://adage.com/article/digital/google-adds-button-foray-social-search/149645/).
And see the very Google-esque short video for consumers on how it works here: http://www.youtube.com/user/google?blend=1&ob=4#p/a/u/1/OAyUNI3_V2c.
More Facts Dealers Need to Know:
• +1 votes will also be added to search ads, and their tests show that they increase PPC ad clicks. There’s no charge to add, and Google says higher click-throughs improve quality scores, which of course means that advertisers could ultimately pay less for keywords or positions. To see how +1 works for advertisers, visit their AdWords blog. http://adwords.blogspot.com/2011/03/1-button-adwords.html
• Ad Age notes that traditionally, inbound links have been the strongest component in page rank, but last year Google also gave Twitter updates big traction in results – and this adds a whole new, super-targeted social element to search.
• No plan to include Facebook connections – and given how this is ‘inspired’ by Facebook functionality, you can see why they don’t have the right to (and probably never will!)
• Google says the way it decides which +1s to show people come from various signals – people they’re connected to thru Google (Chat buddies, contacts, etc.) And soon their connections on sites like Twitter.
• Only people logged into their Google account will see the +1s.
• In weeks ahead, +1s will “appear in many more places and Google products and sites across Web.
+1 Needs to be Part of Your Online Reputation Campaign:
Obviously, with such powerful first-page visibility, getting +1s for your dealership/website/pages is now a key element of your Online and Social Reputation. Hence, you need to do what all Online Reputation requires: find appropriate, authentic and natural ways for your happy sales and service customers to +1 you and your pages/sites. Because you can see how impactful it will be: somebody’s searching X brand dealership in X market, and the dealerships/dealer websites/dealer PPC ads that people like/+1 are going to stand out!
Helping your customers to get started:
• The first time they click on a +1 button in search results they will be prompted to create a Google profile – and they can adjust their privacy settings the way they want. They must have a Google profile, and at that profile they can see all their +1s in one place and delete anyone they want.
• If they press +1, they also have the ability to undo it immediately
• If people want to know who they’re connected to in Google’s eyes, tell them to visit the ‘Social Circle and Content” section in the Google Dashboard.
I logged into my gmail account today and tested the +1 process out, below are images that show the difference in search results and what your customers would see:
It’s a major move dealers need to understand and get proactive about – and it’s another sign of where the Internet and Google are headed – interweaving search results, consumer recommendations and social connections into new platforms that will change the way people find and select businesses.
And sure, it sounds like another recipe for gaming the system. Analysts point out, though, that Google has been getting pretty sharp at filtering out the gamers. So keep it real with +1!
If you have any questions or need help, please call me at 866-475-5553 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merla Turner is the Director of Dealer Training at eXtéresAUTO (and recently honored as one of the “Top Rated” Internet Trainers by DrivingSales’ Dealer Satisfaction Awards). Previously she served as Internet Director at Dick Hannah Honda in Vancouver, WA.