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Evolution of the Google +1 Button: Sharing Content to Circles

Evolution of the Google +1 Button: Sharing Content to Circles image

Since Google first launched the +1 button earlier this year, the company has been swiftly moving to add new features in the social sharing arena. Now, Google has announced that the +1 button can share directly to your Google+ circles. Here’s an overview of the evolution of the +1 button and what it means for local marketing. 

Launch of +1 Button: When it was first introduced, the Google +1 button signaled that the company was committed to incorporating social signals more firmly into search. The +1 button shows up next to each site in Google search results and on any sites that install the button, including websites and blogs. When a Google user clicks the +1 button on a site, this is essentially a “vote” the user gives to that page. This vote serves as a signal Google can use to help it rank content in its social search product, meaning that one user’s +1 could result in that page showing up higher in a search result for the user’s Google contacts when they search a related topic. It proved to be an interesting idea, and with its connection to Google, the button was installed on over 1 million websites. But without integration into a social platform, buzz about the tool began to die down.

Launch of Google+: A few months later, Google+ launched as a social sharing platform based on a Google user’s public profile that allowed users to create content and share to different circles of contacts. This site included the +1 button as a way to “vote” for user shared content on the platform. But, despite the identical nomenclature and design, the Google+ version of the +1 button did little  more than notifying contacts when a post they shared had received a +1. The one element of integration of the +1 button and Google+ was that when a user +1’d content outside of Google+, a link to that content would appear in the +1’s section of the user’s profile, but not on their feed. Despite being integrated into Google+, the +1 button still served primarily as a signal of approval to Google and could influence results in social search. Even with a social network of its own, the truly social elements of the button +1 button were yet to be seen outside of search.

+1 Button Gets Social with Google+: Now, after several months of visibility, the Google +1 button installed on websites can be used not just approve content, but also to share it to your social circles on Google+. When you are logged into your Google+ profile and click the +1 button on a website, the share box from Google+ will appear, allowing you to post a comment about the content or website as well as to select which circles and contacts you’d like to share it with.

Evolution of the Google +1 Button: Sharing Content to Circles image

What About the +1 Button in Google+?
In order to share content posted within Google+ to your own circles in Google+, you still have to use the native “share” link under a user’s post rather than using the +1 button. Time will tell if Google chooses to unify this user experience or not. In addition, it appears that the +1’s section of a user profile still only includes content you have +1’d on outside websites, serving as a sort of public social bookmarking tool of offsite +1 content affiliated with your profile.

Check out this video from Google about the button and see it in action: 

What This Means for Local Marketing
These changes make using Google+ an even more powerful tool for local online marketing. Currently, you can use your personal Google+ profile to market your local business, since Google does not yet allow business profiles on the site. By easily sharing content from across the web with your circles, you can establish your profile as a resource, boosting your ability to share about your own business as well!

These changes also signal that Google is still committed to social, reinforcing the need for local businesses to get involved in creating and sharing dynamic, optimized content in order to rank well in search, build a great online reputation, and optimize their web presence.

Are you using Google+? What do you think about this new feature? Share your thoughts in a comment!

Author:  Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

Learn More About +1 and Google+

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