Why You Need to Stop Resisting & Add Google +1 Buttons to Your Site

As a whitehat SEO consultant, I’m a big proponent of playing by Google’s rules and leveraging the tools they provide (as long as they’re decent tools). If they give me a protocol for getting my client’s videos into search results, I’ll use it. If they give me a console to monitor sites for minor to devastating SEO performance issues, I’ll check it. And if they give me a way to absolutely dominate my client’s competition in organic search, I’m all over that.

I'd love to Google +1 your website

But hold on.

I’m finding that, many clients don’t want to take advantage of that last one: the game changing golden opportunity. There’s a great deal of resistance to the idea of implementing it. Some of which I can understand and some of which I don’t. However, I take full responsibility not effectively selling the value and assuaging the fears. I hope that I can accomplish that here.

The Hesitation

The recommendation I’m referencing here is adding Google +1 buttons to your website. The hesitation is easy to understand; Google+ is portrayed as either A) a complete ghost town, and utter failure of a social network, or B) a place where technology geeks and Google employees go to have their own secret clubs. I feel like that perception is incorrect and even though I’ve been seeing an dramatic infusion of all kinds of demographics this year, I’ll try not to argue with that perception here.

That’s the hesitation and it manifests as site owners and marketing managers not wanting to add +1 buttons to their sites because their target audience is not on the network.

The Missed Opportunity

The missed opportunity here is huge. For logged in users, anyone logged into a Google+ account OR any other Google account (like for basic Gmail), +1s and shares on Google+ have a direct impact on where a site appears in search results. If one person gives a +1 to a site, that site will rank better in the results of anyone they’re connected with (out to 2nd degree connections).

Let me reiterate that: If a customer/reader/visitor gives a +1 to your website, your website will rank higher in the search results of anyone that is connected to them or anyone connected to any of those connections.

Google +1 Buttons Rule

For an example, let’s say I give a +1 to your website. Google attributes about 700 connections to me: I have 200+ people that I email through Gmail and 500+ people who follow me on Google+. Let’s say that between Google+ and Gmail, each of those people are themselves connected to just 100 others. The site I +1ed now gets preferential treatment in the search results of 70,000 users.

Am I kidding? I am absolutely not.

Your brand may be too cool for most of the geeks on Google+, but if you have one potential customer who uses it, you’re missing out on upwards of 70,000 chances to directly impact where you appear in organic search.

The Solution

The solution is simple: learn to love the Google +1 button. Fast Action Social Sharing buttons for Google+ should appear on every page on your website. Implementing these is sickeningly easy; you can implement Google +1 buttons only or you can implement the big three in one go with a social sharing plugin.

The Non-Inclusion

There’s actually another point of hesitancy that I didn’t cover before. It’s the hesitation to implement +1 buttons because you don’t want to add the management of one more social network to your Social Media Manager’s workload.

Good news! Having +1 buttons on your website and having a Google+ page for your brand are completely separate. Using one does not require you to use the other.

Robocop says stop resisting Google +1 buttons

The Conclusion

Regardless of what you think of Google+ as a social network, you cannot deny that +1s and shares directly impact where your site ranks in search (it’s an undisputable fact). If there is one member of your target audience that is connected to someone who uses Google+ to +1 and share things on the web, you are going to benefit.

It only makes sense to add Google +1 buttons to your website. The development cost is minimal (if your developer wants to charge you more than two hours, be suspicious), there’s virtually no downside, and it doesn’t require you to do anything else on Google+.

Still feeling hesitant about using +1 buttons on your website? Please, please let me know why in the comments (completely serious).

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Mike Arnesen

Mike Arnesen - Director of Analytics & Optimization

A diehard SEO and web analytics geek, Mike is the Director of Analytics & Optimization at SwellPath. He is also a board member at SEMpdx. Mike's fascination for search experience optimization, structured data and semantic markup, and web technology knows no bounds. Beyond geeking out with SEO and analytics, Mike is also a prolific blogger, speaker (MozCon, SemTechBiz, SEMpdx, SMX, State of Search Conference, etc.), and company culture advocate. When not in the office, Mike is spending time with his wife, enjoying the outdoors, or keeping up with inbound marketing news via mobile; most of the time, it's all three simultaneously.

Watch Mike talk about his role and life at SwellPath

44 Responses to “Why You Need to Stop Resisting & Add Google +1 Buttons to Your Site”

  1. Emma

    I’d be curious on your thoughts about this article from Oliver Richtenstein
    and the followup article:

    • Mike Arnesen (@Mike_Arnesen)

      Thanks for sharing Oliver’s article. While I can respect his point of view, I don’t agree with him.

      This is probably a trend that only applies to people who spend a ton of time online, but if a site doesn’t have Fast Action Social Sharing buttons, I’m probably not going to share it, even if I enjoyed the page/post a lot. I honestly, don’t have the time to copy the page’s URL, log into Facebook, go to my status update box, type up a description, add the link, select a decent picture, and click Share. It’s far easier for me to click “Like” right from the post. That then shows up in my Facebook feed as, “Mike Arnesen likes post-xyz. Contrary to what Oliver says, even though I know how to copy and paste a URL, I don’t think those buttons come off as desperate; they’re convenient.

      Another reason that I like the “like” and +1 buttons is that it’s a nice way to show the author you enjoyed their work. Not everybody has time to write a comment or perhaps they just don’t have anything to add to the conversation, but still enjoyed the post. They can “like” of +1 it and show their appreciation. I do it all the time!

      Also, Oliver may or may not know about the tie to search engine rankings; it isn’t referenced in his post. I wonder if that would change his view.

  2. antonloshe

    Great post Mike. I’ll be honest though, I’m only commenting because of that amazing Robocop meme. It’s glorious.

  3. Richard Esnoggin

    This is really good and interesting. At first I wasn’t sure about how I felt, but afterwards it made me think more about it. Good job.

  4. mmstll

    Thanks for responding! Just thought I would share another viewpoint on the matter to prove that it’s not a set-in-stone strategy, as with any online marketing strategy. I think it’s an interesting debate for sure, and not one that has a right or wrong answer or a perfect solution for every website.

  5. Bill Sebald

    Mike, you make this sound so resolute.

    I think you’re right that there’s opportunity, but I think it’s unlikely that the impact is this great – even for the most “plussed” sites. Completely agree that it’s an easy, “err-on-the-side of opportunity” move.

    Yes – it should be done. At the very least it’s something to think about for future Google factors. But I haven’t seen anyone get the level of lift I think you’re suggesting, even those I know who are buying plusses on the black market.

    • Mike Arnesen (@Mike_Arnesen)

      That was most definitely my intention. 😉 I tried to go a bit over the top, but perhaps I went too far and am over-hyping the present value of +1s.

      Depending on how Google chooses to use +1s as a factor in “search plus”, the impact could vary wildly. So you’re right that impact could potentially be not as great as I’m making it out to be. I felt like it was important to show the potential of the “best case”.

      Also, I definitely agree that marketers, SEOs, and site owners need to be thinking about this and I do think that these kinds of things will start counting for even more in the future.

      Thanks for your comment, Bill.

      • Bill Sebald

        Maybe I just read it too quickly on my dopey iPhone. Or maybe I’m just salty that you didn’t go out to dinner with us the last night of Mozcon.

        • Mike Arnesen

          You should be salty, haha. At least I have your number in my cell to make it up to at the next conference. Any plans to head out to SMX East? I’ll be there!

          PS. It just blew my mind how close Philly is to NYC. Closer than Seattle and Portland! I clearly need to travel more.

  6. femendozab

    Great read!! So true! There is nothing to lose by adding a +1 button. I always recommend them.

  7. The 2012 Guide to Successful Holiday Marketing - SwellPath

    […] reason why you shouldn’t have a Google plus page. To learn more about adding Google plus read our blog post. Plus, when someone searches for your site, the right hand side of the results page will feature […]

  8. 8 Takeaways from a True Story of 800% Blog Growth - SwellPath

    […] account. Don’t brush this off just because you don’t like Google+. Also, check out this post if you need more […]

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    […] to arrive at a cursory answer.] Simply put—as my SwellPath colleague Mike Arnesen has argued—the Google+ +1 is the single most valuable social media recommendation for organic search. Log into G+, find your earned media on its source site and any other blog or aggregator where it […]

  10. Anonymous

    One key point to cover in this article that wasn’t discussed is the ping back to the Google servers to retrieve the plusone.js file. When a developer is trying to optimize the site to load fast in other countries the water falls for that specific .js file is way too expensive. Even if you serve the file from your own CDN network the file takes forever to load, so until they fix that, international sites should stay away from it, or you are going to start seeing your site loading 20 plus seconds or more just for that dang file.

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