How to Set Up Google +1 for Your Website
Google's +1 functionality is the search giant's first official effort to collect and integrate its own social signals to improve search results. Like Facebook's Like button, +1 allows Google users to show that they like a web page with one click.
The +1 functionality is still considered experimental and is being slowly rolled out to English-language users. Plus, you must be logged into a Google account (Gmail, Google Apps, etc.) to see +1 results, and you must have a Google Profile to +1 sites that you like. These hurdles mean that the +1 is still in "limited release."
But +1's impact is about to get much bigger as Google has launched the +1 button for websites, which allows users to +1 a website without leaving the page. Businesses are already clamoring to integrate +1 into their websites to be at the front edge of this opportunity.
Why is Google +1 important for business?
While Google can be a little vague about a lot of things, they've made a concrete statement on this one – Google +1 will influence search rankings in the future.
How exactly this works is yet to be seen, but it's safe to assume that when your friends show they like a website through +1, you'll be more likely to see that website in search results. It's also likely that websites that get large numbers of +1 votes will show up higher in search overall.
A great site with a lot of +1 votes means more visibility and more sales. If your website is already high-quality, adding +1 to the promotional mix is easy and can have a big payoff.
How to see Google +1 data
First, you'll want to start seeing +1 data in your search results, so you can see the results of your +1 activity over time. To do that, you need to log in to Google.
If you have a Gmail or Google Apps account, log in. You can tell if you're logged in by checking the top right corner of the Google search screen. If your name appears there, you're already logged in.
If you don't have an account, you can open one for free after you click "Sign In."
Once you're logged in, your search results should look like this:
The small +1 icon near the search result's title is the quick and easy way to +1 a search result. Underneath each listing, you'll see how many +1s a link already has.
If you are not seeing +1 after logging in: you may be one of many users that have not been selected for the +1 experiment. Luckily, you can sign yourself up here.
How to +1 links that you like, including your business
Once you can see what others are +1-ing, you'll probably want to start adding your own +1s to sites you like. In order to be able to +1 a search result, you need a Google Profile.
Once you have your Profile set up, as long as you're logged in you can click the +1 button next to any search result to tell your contacts that you like that link.
Your +1s will also by default appear in a special tab on your Google Profile that is only visible to you. To share your +1s, click on the tab on your Google Profile, click the "Edit Profile" button, then check the box to make the +1 tab public.
How to add the Google +1 button to your website
Now that you can use the +1 system for your personal web browsing, it's time to look at how to use it to promote your website. One of the easiest ways is to integrate the new +1 button into your website.
Google has a special site for webmasters which will auto-generate code that you can cut-and-paste into your website. If you have access to easily add or edit code, this can be a quick and easy process. A web designer or developer could also make the change for you fairly quickly.
Where to put the Google +1 button
You want the button to be prominent on any piece of content that you think might be shared. Your home page is a good place to start, and after that you should look at any page that is designed to provide value to a visitor, especially blog pages, multimedia content, white papers, giveaways/coupons, etc.
For best results, you'll want to set up the button code to assign the +1 to the URL of the content you're trying to promote. You can see Google's technical guide to setting up the button code here.
What's next for Google +1
+1 is a clear play on Google's part to compete with existing social sharing powerhouses, most notably Facebook. And it's a smart play – Google's value is in the quality of its search results, and the more information it collects to determine rankings, including user feedback like +1, the better those results will become over time.
The full potential of +1 will only be seen once the platform is available to all users and becomes a habit for Google users, which will take some time. But early adoption of +1 by business will almost certainly lead to competitive advantage in search in the long run.
Did you like this article? Share it with your friends -- start using +1 now!