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It’s a big day for social buttons. Up first is Twitter, who have just announced that they will now be offering a follow button for third part sites. Secondly, the much vaunted Google +1 looks set to launch in the United States, bringing about, what we can only assume to be a big change to its SERPs and potentially algorithm.
So what’s the advantage of having a follow button for your website? Well, in the past you could happily point people towards your profile page, where they could make an informed decision on whether to follow you or not. Of course you can still do this, just as you can encourage these visitors to tweet your blog posts or product pages. However, now they can just follow you instantly, eliminating one of the processes that stand in the way of your Twitter profile gaining a new follower.
Google +1 doesn’t need much of an introduction, although if you do want to read more, then you might want to read Tara’s post: Will Google +1 Really Improve Search Relevancy? Essentially it is a voting system in the same mould as a Facebook Like, or possibly even a Digg. If your friends and other social connections +1 a page, then it will appear higher in your searches. Essentially, it is another way of personalising results and bypassing the organic algorithm.
Whilst the Twitter follow button will probably prove reasonably popular, particularly with blog owners and online stores, there is a certain amount of mystery surrounding Google +1. Nobody is quite sure what impact, if any, it is likely to have on SERPs and search behaviour in general. Equally, will people naturally return to the search page to +1 a site that they retrospectively recommend? It’s not hugely likely, although could be easily gamed.
You can download the follow button from Twitter right now. Unfortunately Google users in the UK are unlikely to be able to access +1 instantly, although a full roll out shouldn’t be too far off as long as the Beta tests are successful. This will certainly come under intense scrutiny in the coming weeks, so expect a few updates in the not too distant future.