How Google’s New Social Tools Can Help Your Online Reputation

Since the recent Google Panda update, search engine marketers and online reputation specialists have been scrambling to figure out how to better optimize websites and SEO strategies to help their clients stay at the front of the pack. One of the most recent developments is the increasing importance of social aspects in determining page rank.

This is not to say that good, on-site SEO is dead, simply that social aspects, like links on Twitter, Facebook Shares and Likes, and more are helping to enhance those other well-proven practices. And in that vein, Google has decided to enter the fray and introduce it’s own social products that may potentially have an even bigger impact on your online reputation: +1 and Google+.

Are Your Getting +1’d?

A few months ago, you may have noticed that Google released the +1 button. Originally, it only appeared in the search results next to a website link, but now webmasters can embed a button on their site, similar to the Facebook share button or the Twitter button.

When a user clicks a +1 button, it’s like giving Google a tacit endorsement of the website. Essentially a user is saying, “I like this site.” And subsequently, Google will take that into consideration when determining page rank.

Reputation +1

However, the most important aspect of the +1 tool is not that it will boost your SEO. Rather that it will increase the clout and respectability of sites with a large number of +1’s—increasing the likelihood that they will be clicked on. This is because the +1 amount will be shown in the search results right next to the link.

For example, let’s say an individual searches your company name online. They are shown 10 links on the first page, and one of them is a “scam report” site about your company. However, all the links to positive information about your site have over 20 +1’s each. And the scam report site has 2. Which links do you think that individual will be more likely to click on? And, more importantly, which websites do you think they will more likely take seriously?

Your Reputation: Movie Recommendation Style

The Google +1 button is kind of like getting movie recommendations. You may not know much about a movie, but if you hear a friend talk about it, you’re more likely to go. And if you hear 10 friends talk about, you’ll probably head to the theater this weekend. That’s what you want to the +1 button to do for your company reputation. When users search Google for your company name, you want them to see that tons of people like your company—right in the search results.

The Problem

Right now, most users will not see organic +1’s in the search results, because those numbers are only open to people who have created a Google profile and are getting personalized search results, something Google has not been extremely successful in encouraging thus far. But they’ve just created a backdoor: Google+.

Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, and it’s really hot right now. When you sign up for a Google+ account (which is easy if you already use Gmail). Then you have automatically created a Google profile and can begin to see +1 results in your searches. So as Google+ grows, so will the importance of +1 for your online reputation.

However, all that doesn’t really matter because as +1 begins to gather steam, Google will begin to show +1 results in searches regardless of whether a user is logged into their Google+ or if they even have an account.

Give Your Reputation Strategy a +1

What this all boils down to is that +1 could be a huge boost to your online reputation campaign if you are able to leverage the members of your organization in the right ways and encourage people to +1 positive websites about your company.

If you own those sites, add a Google +1 button to the homepage, and ask people to click it. If you don’t own the sites, send links to members in your organization and encourage them to +1 positive sites about your company, giving the sites more authority on the web, and boosting your online reputation.