The battle for the clicks: Google +1, Facebook and Twitter
Finally, since last week people in The Netherlands (and the rest of Europe) can add the Google +1 button to their website. Also, Twitter has released their Follow-button, and Bing and Facebook are continuing their partnership. And with all this comes the battle for the clicks. With personalized search results, followers on Twitter, likes on Facebook the question arises: isn’t it a bit too much?
Social media and content
International research from Nielsen shows that 23% of all the messages on social media contain links to publicized content. This translates to 27.00.000 (!) pieces of content that are shared on a daily basis. To make it easier to share content, you can add share buttons to your websites. For our company blog we chose only the most relevant and used social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. We don’t use Hyves, the number one Dutch network site: Hyves has a different audience (much younger), a less professional image and is hardly used by our target audience. And this is just The Netherlands. In the US we see share buttons for Google Buzz, Reddit, Yahoo!, StumpleUpon and Digg (to name a few)!
Social media and the SERPs
The exact influence of social signals on search results isn’t quite clear yet, but we know that they are getting more and more important. Earlier this year Google stated that social signals (like Tweets and Likes) did not have a direct impact on rankings, but they do look at those signals. But, as Search News Central stated, social signals do have an influence on the search results, albeit indirect. Search engines can also use them for content discovery for instance. Also, social media can be another source of traffic.
Search results are also getting more and more personalized and we get to see when one of our (online) friends has shared a webpage. And with Google +1 and the Bing/Facebook partnership it seems that social media channels are having a bigger and bigger impact on search results.
Google +1 and Bing/Facebook
Google was clearly looking for a way to integrate social media channels with its search results when Bing announced their partnership with Facebook last year. A blow in the face.
To bridge the gap, Google announced +1 in April: its own “like” button for search results and (since last week) for webpages. Check out Google +1 on the official website or watch the introduction video here.
Unfortunately for Google, Bing beats them to the punch: currently the search results in Bing are powered by Facebook data.
As far as I know Google has said nothing about +1 impacting the search results (directly). Besides that, the lack of a Google community can be a real problem for the search giant: where Bing can use the widely adopted Facebook, Google has to convince its users to create a full profile and be logged in. It is therefore more likely that users will see personalized results in Bing (via Facebook) then in Google (via +1).
But, by making the +1 button available for websites, websites are bound to use it, just in case Google +1 does affect the search rankings. We have integrated the button just to be safe. The button also makes it easier for people to +1 pages, so we should see an increase in the usage of this new feature.
An advantage of Google +1 is the stats we can get by using Google Webmaster Tools, although I would like to see them integrated with Google Analytics. With Facebook it is more difficult to track and measure your “likes”, although the handy people at Webanalisten have found a way to track them in Analytics (Dutch article).
The Twitter Follow button
And to make it even more complicated (and certainly more crowded), we can now add the Twitter Follow button. Now users can not only tweet about a page, but with one mouseclick they can connect their Twitter profiles to yours. Which is a very welcome addition, but where to put it!
It’s getting crowded in here
The fight is on: what social media channel will get a place on your website? Here in The Netherlands we only have a handful of social media channels that are heavily in use. But still, even for the Dutch (and the rest of Europe), it’s getting crowded and it is getting tougher and tougher to integrate all those buttons. Which channels should we add to our website so that our users can share the content easily, we reap the benefits and still maintain a great user experience?
For the Dutch readers I would advise to add the Google +1 button. We don’t know what the impact will be, and you might as well get a head start on Google’s social network. Since Google has 95% market share, we can ignore Bing for now. It doesn’t look like Microsoft will gain market share any time soon. Besides that, add the share buttons that are relevant to your business. LinkedIn is very popular here, and Facebook is the more mature Hyves.
Good luck, and I am curious how users from other countries are dealing with the increase in buttons and social media channels that users in their country are using. Do let me know!
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