Just spotted in Orkut, Google's also-ran social networking site: a new Google+ badge, one of the first integrations between the two services. Orkut members who also have a Google+ account are now being rewarded in the form of a badge reading "Google+ user," which they can choose to make visible on their Orkut profile. No, it's not a big deal in terms of the feature itself (
Controversy over the impact of Google Plus buttons on search engine page rank is the latest news story associated with Google’s recently introduced social network. Will it benefit large websites to the detriment of small or specialty sites, particularly blogs? Since Google page rank is part of the mysterious world of search engine optimization, speculation is plentiful.
I found this attractive rendering of a Google Plus button on the Flickr page of a Second Life resident.
The image was used as the illustration for a mysteriously de-listed Forbes article* about the effect of Google+ buttons on website page rank. The article URL was supposedly removed from Google search results. Based on the error returned when I checked just now, I think it is more likely that it was deleted by Forbes. Whether accidental or by intent wasn’t obvious to me.
Yet it is not easy for anyone, not even Google, to erase digital footprints. Alternative search engine Blekko has the article in cache. Publication date was 18 August 2011 (Forbes Online). I will amend this post with a cleaner URL for the web cached result from Blekko. The article didn’t seem objectionable to me, upon first glance. But I am not an SEO expert.
* Thanks and attribution given to a Google+ user discussion of 31 August 2011.
Here is the Blekko web cached URL: http://blekko-webcache.com/cache/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fkashmirhill%2F2011%2F08%2F18%2Fstick-google-plus-buttons-on-your-pages-or-your-search-traffic-dies%2F
The author is Forbes staff writer Ms. Kashmir Hill. The article is time stamped 11:21 AM on August 18, 2011, Technology section. The title is Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Dies. The content of the article is not as dire as the title. These are the salient points, and possibly cause for concern by any website involved in e-commerce, publisher or otherwise:
Though recommendations from contacts in your Google circles will be weighted more heavily, the number of “+1″s overall will now be a factor in search whether you’re part of Plus or not…. The Google guys explained how the new recommendation system will be a factor in search. “Universally, or just among Google Plus friends?” I asked. ‘Universal’ was the answer.
This was not surprising, but still unsavory:
Some traffic scammers are already onto this. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic reports that SEO shops are already offering bushels of +1 votes for $9.99 a pop.
Ms. Hill then suggested that the Google+ buttons will benefit users of online services and those active in social media:
There are going to be lots of benefits to this… I just gave a hotel I liked in TownN a +1. Should I miss a Facebook status update from a friend going to TownN in the future asking for recommendations, this is a built-in back-up, so that this hotel will rise up in the search results should they Google “TownN hotels.” That’s pretty cool… And I can do that even though TownN doesn’t have a +1 on its page, since these buttons are also available from the main Google search page.
Additional web analytics information will be available to sites that include the Google+ button. But similarly, sites that choose not to place the +1 button on their pages will likely fare worse in search results than competitors who have included the button.
Is this a problem?
Facebook “Like” buttons have a similar impact, though not through Google search engine results directly.
What is the downside?
The Google Plus button is free to use, just like other social media services. There will be some work for the web maintenance staff, decisions about optimal placement. Page load speed? Uncertain. Yet it would be very unwise for Google to penalize sites in search results due to incremental delay from using one its own products! Overall, Google+ does not seem to be a cause for concern– merely the addition of another social media button to the already ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter icons.
After a long wait, Google Plus finally arrived in April 2011. It is part of Google’s incremental approach to going “social”.
Various red herrings were the subject of much intense debate while the internet and social media world awaited a new social product from Google. Google Circles was one such false lead. (In fact, it was a discontinued beta product dating back to 2006 or 2007). There were other equally incorrect conjectures, some of which I wrote about, as I am as curious as other Google-watchers.
Social Family Identity
Now that Google Plus is here, it is uncertain where it will fit into the overall Google social product family, so to speak. The short-lived Google Hotpot was merged into Google Places after a brief run of only six months. The fate of Google Buzz is not questioned, yet it is confusing for webmasters to know which product to offer, Buzz or Plus.
My minor Google Research observation
A peculiar situation, no more reliable than any oracle or augur, about the fate of Google Buzz came to light for me today. I was browsing the Google Research blog and website. I noticed that the contact choices for Google Research were “subscribe to blog”, “follow us on Twitter” and “follow us on Google Buzz”. However, the URL for the Google Buzz option returned an Error 404, Not Found.
Shortly after, I took a quick glance at the Official Google Research account on Twitter. I noted that a Google Buzz profile was the URL contact provided for Google Research. However, this was the very same Google Buzz URL as the one listed on the Google Research blog site. And of course, it also returned an Error 404 Page Not Found.
This is merely an observation. It might not have any significance whatsoever with respect to the status of Google Buzz. I have been wrong before!
UPDATE: July 2011
I received a very courteous message from Google Research about the error in the Buzz URL on both blog and Twitter profile. Google Research promptly updated the Google Buzz URL to a valid one in both locations. (I later invited Google Research to join Google+, but was informed that organizations were not yet allowed to have Google+ profiles).
My earlier concerns about the imminent demise of Google Buzz based on Google Research activity were not appropriate at this time.
Google is making inroads into the field of social search. However, there are alternative providers that specialize in that field that are already well-established. One such search engine is PeopleBrowsr.
Similar to how Google has indexed the web, PeopleBrowsr has indexed Twitter:
With Twitter’s Firehose and our proprietary server technology, we have reliable access to over 3 years of data.
PeopleBrowsr recently introduced a social search engine that has the potential to carve its own niche in the space where Google’s search algorithms and simple Twitter activity trackers intersect.
The new search engine is brand named ReSearch.ly*. PeopleBrowsr has designed Research.ly for ”online discovery analysis and interaction”.
Research.ly is for consumers, brand marketers and researchers. Its goal is to
build advanced conversation technologies to assemble the collective intelligence through storing, retrieving and indexing every public human conversation. Now at this pivotal era of digital preservation in social media, we’re releasing 1,000 days of Twitter data – free of charge – for deep historical reporting and social search.
ReSearch.ly differentiates itself by offering these four tracking and analysis functions:
- The Interest Graph- Access by topic and keyword
- Degrees of Separation- A relationship mapping tool to discover the relationship between any two Twitter users
- Community Search- drill down searching for user subsets with one or more common attributes
- Location-based Search- drill down search within a geographically targeted user group.
The new service’s corporate motto is “Instant Communities In Real-Time with Viral Analytics and Viral Search”. As of now, it seems to focus exclusively on Twitter stream content.
*Yes, that is correct.
Research.ly operates under the auspices of the Libyan Government, as
.ly is Libya’s ICANN-assigned top-level domain.
Help people share stuff from your website using Google Buzz! Google Buzz buttons are the easiest way to allow people to share content from your site using Google Buzz.
Post to Google Buzz
Configure the Buzz widget for your website or blog. Choose one of three different Google Buzz button styles. Select your preferred language.
Follow on Google Buzz
Allow users to follow you on Google Buzz without needing to leave your website. Promote your own Google Buzz account with the follow on Google Buzz widget and button for your website.
The Google Buzz API lets you syndicate Google Buzz posts, connect sites to Buzz, and more. You do not need pre-approval to use the Google Buzz API or Google Buzz buttons or to promote the API functionality on your site using the provided buttons.
Google Buzz Branding Guidelines
Google has specific branding requirements that must be observed if developing an application using the Google Buzz API:
- Give your application or website a unique name with unique branding and logos.
- Include a disclaimer that your site is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by Google Inc.
- Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons as the most prominent element in the logo or icon for your application, nor as the most prominent element on your web page.
- Do not include “Google Buzz” in the name of your application, domain name, website title or name.
- Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons in a way that implies sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement by Google.
- Do not display the Google Buzz logo on any web site that has or displays adult content, promotes gambling, promotes violence, contains hate speech, involves the sale of tobacco or alcohol to persons under twenty-one years of age, violates other applicable laws or regulations or is otherwise objectionable.