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Getting Found in Google: Insights into the +1 Button and

By Julie King |

Google's new +1 button

The panel discussed how they expect the new +1 button from Google (which currently does not appear in Canadian search results) to affect search results going forward.

Przyklenk pointed out that Google does not want to have a high dependency on other social sites for signals that will help the search engine determining rankings. While its social project Google Buzz was an "epic fail", he believes +1 may be more useful.

Craver agreed.

To Van Horne's point that most people outside of the search engine community are not aware of the +1 button, he pointed to a comment Van Horne had made in an earlier session about 400,000 new Android devices coming on the market every day.

To operate an Android device the user must have a Google account, which in turn creates a user base that is growing.

Craver noted that Google's profile page is a lot like Facebook was originally. If you have Picasa, Buzz and +1s set into it, you will see four tabs across the top of your page: photos (from Picasa), a wall (from Google Buzz), and now your likes (from Google +1s).

"If Google decides to tie that into the rest of their properties and say 'Gin'," he said, "you've got your social network and +1 will be bigger really fast."

Several weeks after the conference Google announced Google + project, a new social web offering quite similar to what Craver had predicted that will have "circles" (friends), "hangouts" (video chats), "sparks" (news feeds), photos and more. The project is currently in beta and is not accepting new participants at this time.

On an aside, Van Horn noted that things he linked to from his Google profile are doing really well.

"That's like a link from Google," said Van Horne. "In it [the link], it says you can add rel=me, which is once again another social signal. A lot of people say 'I have trouble getting my Tumblr indexed' - I have no trouble at all, because they [Google] know I'm not a spammer, so they are following it."

Allen pointed out that Google is offering bonuses to its employees for using the +1 button.

Davies thought that in a short term window of zero to six months, the +1 button will likely not be a signal that will have a large impact on search rankings. He predicted that if users start using the +1 button, Google will likely use if for personalization, letting you know when a friend has +1'd something.

It looks like Davies was right on the mark: A few weeks after the SES Toronto conference, Search Engine Watch reported that they had started seeing +1 numbers reported in US search results, some of which were personalized. as a rich micro format

Google, Yahoo and Bing have backed a new micro format for providing meta data search engines can use to interpret the content they find when crawling the web.

Using these new meta data tags, such as the new rel=author tag, may help site owners classify their content. However, Van Horne raised concerns about using a proprietary format that may not be supported by all engines and that may see different engine interpret the meta data in diverging ways in the future.

Van Horne suggested that site owners look instead to RDFA a micro format backed by the web standards W3C. He also pointed out that is very limited and does not cover products and e-commerce, which RDFA does address.

"RDFA and the whole semantic web is going to be big in the future, but I don't want to base what I'm doing just on one ... I want to use what's best for what I'm implementing," said Van Horne.

Question about no-following tag pages

An audience member asked about tag pages as thin content and whether a webmaster should be removing, no-following or de-indexing them.

Response from the panel was mixed.

Davies noted that you could actually damage yourself if you add rel=no-follow to tag pages.

"It's become link evaporation, so your vote on your page still divides by X number based on your links and if you no-follow one, it doesn't transfer to those other links, it just goes away, so you could end up damaging yourself," said Davies.

Przyklenk is not sure that tag pages were ever a good usability solution, unless it was tastefully done.

Craver pointed out that Matt Cutts has said he doesn't like 10 or more tag clouds on a page. Matt Cutts has said on Google's Webmaster Forums that tag clouds can look like keywords stuffing, which can negatively affect your search rank.

Next »Action steps, putting advice from this session into practice

Page 1: Panda-pocalypse Survival Guide at SES Toronto
Page 2: The duplicate content fiasco and problem with too many ads on the page
Page 3: A look at the Google +1 button, tag pages and new meta tag options
Page 4: Action steps, putting advice from this session into action

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