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Google +1 Reference Guide

Google +1 Reference Guide
Joseph Olesh

The +1 button from Google is similar to the Facebook “Like,” but applied to the entire web. Google’s dominance as the preeminent search engine places much value in this button. Businesses of every industry are scrambling for information regarding its functionality and application.

Breaking news from Mashable’s Ben Parr explains that an update from Google this last Tuesday will make the button even faster and more efficient. He cites Google software engineer David Byttow: “We’ve begun to roll out a set of changes that will make the button render up to 3x faster on your site,” Byttow said in a blog post. “No action is required on your part, so just sit back, relax, and watch as the button loads more quickly than before.”

The following guide should answer most basic questions regarding the application and functionality of Google’s +1 button. To install the button, grab a snippet of code here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button.

The +1 Button & Search Results

How does +1 affect search results?
+1 helps people discover relevant content—a website, a Google search result, or an ad—from the people they already know and trust. Adding the +1 button to your pages lets users recommend your content, knowing that their friends and contacts will see their recommendation when it’s most relevant—in the context of Google search results.

When a signed-in Google user is searching, your Google search result snippet may be annotated with the names of the user’s connections who’ve +1’d your page. If none of a user’s connections has +1’d your page, your snippet may display the aggregate number of +1’s your page has received.

Does +1 affect my site’s performance in search?
Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1’s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.

How will the +1 button affect my traffic?
Personalized annotations next to your page in search results may increase your site’s visibility and make your site’s snippet more compelling, which may in turn increase the odds that users will click through to your page.

Will +1’s from my site show up in search results?
If a user +1’s a URL on your site, the Google search result snippet for that URL may be annotated in search results and search ads.

However, your site may make the same content available via different URLs. For example, your site may have several pages listing the same set of products. One page might display products sorted in alphabetical order, while other pages display the same products listed by price or by rating. For example:

http://ex.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&sort=alpha
http://ex.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&sort=price

If Google knows that these pages have the same content, we may index only one version for our search results. As a result, +1’s for the other versions may not appear in search results.

You can make sure Google displays +1 annotations for the most search results possible by adding the rel=”canonical”property to the non-preferred versions of each page. This property should point to the canonical version, like this:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://ex.com/product.php?item=swedish=fish&sort=alpha">

This tells Google: “Of all these pages with identical content, this page is the most useful. Please prioritize it in search results.”

Now, when a user +1’s a page with a non-canonical URL, Google will associate that +1 with the canonical, preferred version.

How does the +1 button affect my ads?
The +1 button itself will appear next to your headline on search ads. Personalized annotations will appear beneath your Display URL. For example, Maria +1’s a page selling a neat laptop holder on a website. When a search ad with that same URL appears, her friend Sam might see the ad with the note “Maria and 28 other people +1’d this.”

Who sees +1?

Who can see the +1 button in Google Search?
The +1 button shows up for signed-in users of Google.com using a modern browser.

Who can see annotations from +1 buttons?
Everybody can see aggregate annotations. Signed-in users also see personalized annotations from:
• People in their Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list.
• People in their My Contacts group in Google Contacts.
• People they’re following in Google Reader and Google Buzz.
• People with that user in one of their circles in Google+.

Will users on mobile browsers see the +1 button?
We are not including the +1 button on mobile search results at this time. However, users may be able to see any +1 buttons you have added to your web pages.

Are +1’s public?
Yes, Google may show personalized annotations to any signed-in user who has a social connection to a +1. However, any Google user can choose whether or not to display their +1’s on their Google profile.

Adding the +1 button to a site

How do I add the +1 button to my site?
Just grab a snippet of code from http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/.

Where should I put the +1 button on my pages?
You know your page and your users best, so we recommend putting the button wherever you think it will be the most effective. Above the fold, near the title of the page, and close to sharing links is often a good location. It can also be effective to place the +1 button at both the end and the beginning of an article or story.

+1 is a public action, so you should add the button only to public, crawlable pages on your site. Once you add the button, Google may crawl or recrawl the page, and store the page title and other content, in response to a +1 button impression or click.

Can I place multiple buttons on a single page that all +1 different URLs?
Yes, but you’ll need to edit the button code. Use the href attribute to specify the target URL. For example, if your home page has a module linking to your blog, and you want to add a +1 button to that module, edit the value of the href attribute to point to your blog’s URL, like this:

<g:plusone href="http://www.example.com/blog"></g:plusone>

What languages is the +1 button available in?
The +1 button and annotations are available in 40 languages.

How often will Google crawl my +1’d pages?
+1 is a public action, so you should add the button only to public, crawlable pages on your site. Once you add the button, Google may crawl or recrawl the page, and store the page title and other content, in response to a +1 button impression or click.

How does +1 work with Buzz? Do we still need the Google Buzz button?
Buzz buttons are used for starting conversations about interesting web content (“Hey guys, what do you think about this news story?”). +1 buttons recommend web content to people in the context of search results (“Peng +1’d this page”), and +1’s from social connections can help improve the relevance of the results you see in Google Search. You can use the +1 button, or the Buzz button, or both—pick what’s right for your content.

Some of my users get a security warning when they view pages with the +1 button. How do I get rid of this?
The +1 button code requires a script from Google’s servers. You can include this script using either http:// or https://, like this:

<script src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> 

If your web page uses https://, some browsers and verification tools will show an error when any assets on the page are called via http://. If your site serves pages via https://, make sure that the +1 button code on those pages also uses https://. (In fact, it’s fine to use https:// in the button code for all pages, even if they are only served via http://.)

Configuring the +1 button

What button sizes are available?
+1 button icons can render at four heights: small (15px), medium (20px), standard (24px), and tall (60px). The small, medium, and standard icons can render with or without a total count of +1’s. The tall icon always includes a total count of +1’s.

What does the “Language” drop-down control?
The Language dropdown controls the language of the button itself.

 

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