With the recent release of Google +1, there has obviously been much discussion about how the new social media sharing button may affect a site’s rankings and overall optimization. Given the nature of social media sharing, there obviously will be some weight given to sites that are +1’d (thanks for the new verb, Google) frequently or consistently enough. Facebook Likes and Shares, Tweets and other social media sharing techniques have consistently proven to help improve rankings and positioning for given topics, and Google and Bing have even flat out said that “social signals” are used in determining ranking.
I’m not here to argue whether Google’s +1 will have an impact on a site’s SEO. It’s hard to imagine that the world’s biggest search engine would create a social media presence that wouldn’t “help” them in their ranking algorithm. Google says that “+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.” And then they follow with the old adage of “This is just one of many signals….” blah blah blah. But the important part is that it IS a signal in their algorithm. Also, in the manner that Google is showing +1’s in the SERPs, whether they are from those in your inner Circles or a total sum of +1’s from all Google Plus users, the +1 button can definitely affect click through rates and goal conversions.
But let’s not focus on that right now. Let’ discuss the ways that you may track these signals and determine for yourself what impact +1 had on your own site and within your competitive industry. The following are a few ideas that may help you along the way; however please share additional tracking methods in the comments below if you know of other techniques or ideas.
Google Webmaster Tools
Once you have verified your site within Webmaster Tools, you will be able to access a new section called “+1 Metrics” from the Dashboard. This includes tabs titled “Search Impact,” “Activity” and “Audience.”
The Search Impact data allows you to compare click through rate, total impressions and total clicks from before and after you added the +1 button to your site. This can be measured for each individual page as well. This is pretty accommodating; however as with any data, you will need to have enough impressions both with and without the +1 button to make a meaningful comparison.
The Activity tab will show the total number of +1’s received by pages within your site, and the Audience tab will display a plethora of information about users that have +1’d your pages, including total unique users, their location, age and gender. (Makes me think twice before +1ing everything on the web, huh?). Read more about the Google +1 Analytics from the post by search engine land.
Google Analytics Event Tracking
You can also record a +1 and track it as an event in Google Analytics. Using the Advanced Options in Google’s +1 button creation tool, add callback=”plusone_vote” and then edit the script tag you used to add the +1 counter to your site. Visit the timely and awesome post from Joost de Valk of Yoast to see how to directly edit the script tag to record the +1’s as events in Analytics.
These are simply a few techniques that we have come across. Has anyone had any luck with either option, or alternative tracking methods? Let us know about the accuracy of your data and anything else you may have noticed since the implementation of Google +1.