Google just announced the +1 feature to bring social recommendations to search. The initial presentation of the button is that it gives people the ability to endorse search results, and share that with their networks. The problem with that idea is that people are unlikely to recommend a search result without clicking through to the page. But the real idea behind the +1 button is that it will be incorporated on web pages and blog posts across the web (see it live to the left), and when people in your social network +1 things on the web, they will show up in your search results.
If this sounds like the Facebook Like button, that’s correct, but there is more power in this feature if it is adopted. Instead of updating a Facebook profile one time or leaving a trail of likes on sites across the web, the Google +1 shows up when people are looking for information using search. The +1 is meant to be an additional cue to get users to click on search results. These recommendations will also be incorporated into Google’s search algorithm, thereby strengthening the power of personalized search results over pages optimized for all.
Google has continued to struggle with social networking because they have tried to add social components to existing Google properties, but the success of these has been limited by their lack of access to a user’s true social network. In the B2B world, people focus on building strong LinkedIn networks that they can leverage for business recommendations. How would you like to incorporate that network into your search results? If people in your network start using the +1 feature on pages and posts, you can follow the steps below to get more value from search results. As an experiment, click the +1 button above. We’ll see how many +1s we can get and determine how it shows up in search.
Google lists the following as sources for +1 endorsements:
- People in your Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list
- People in your My Contacts group in Google Contacts
- People you’re following in Google Reader and Google Buzz
As I noted above, these are not the sources that most people would consider their network of business professionals. Additionally, the Google world is based on a Google profile and Gmail, which are not necessarily where people in B2B companies maintain their contacts. Google does offer that to include people’s +1 recommendations into your search results, add them into the one of the above categories. And this is where you can thank LinkedIn for offering the ability to export your contacts. Follow these steps to bring your LinkedIn contacts to your Google contacts, where they can influence and improve search results for B2B products and services.
1. Go to http://www.linkedin.com/connections.
2. Click the link in the lower right to Export Connections and follow instructions to export for Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file).
3. Log into your primary Gmail account.
4. Click the Import Contacts in the lefthand navigation
5. Click Choose File and select the one downloaded from Linkedin.
6. Click the check box for “Also add these imported contacts to:” and choose My Contacts from the dropdown menu.
7. Click import and you are done. If people in your LinkedIn network indicate their recommendation of things by using the +1, it will now appear in your search results.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below about using Google’s +1 to improve B2B search results. Are you suffering from sharing button fatigue and having trouble deciding on which networks to share the best content?