Just this week Google has released the +1 button for embedding it websites. This button is similar to the social buttons we have seen from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and others. It has been available to be clicked on in the index for some time, although this breaks the normal flow of searching then viewing results pages, people don’t want to click on your site then go back to Google to +1 it.
Currently the motivations for users to click on this button aren’t as clearly defined as they are for other social buttons, with Facebook clicking the like button is a shortcut to sharing content you like with friends, with Twitter it is a shortcut to sending a Tweet with the same effect, sharing content. With the +1 button due to Google’s lack of a centralized social platform currently the main effect of a user hitting a +1 button is that their friends (if they are connected to them on Google through things like Gmail and Buzz) will see those sites +1ed highlighted in their search results. Given how diverse search results are and how friends aren’t necessarily going to like each other’s recommendations this button provides little utility to the end user currently. It seems more of a play by Google to build up a graph of recommendations as to not fall behind on all the data Facebook from the like button.
Having said this though, depending on your affiliate model this button could be the most important one you can have for users to click on. This button is also being included for paid ad results, while quality score won’t be affected by it currently the social proof of a site having quality content will lead to better click through rates than those that don’t. It is also being used as a factor for organic search ranking meaning that appeasing the Google algorithm isn’t the only concern to take into account now when working on an SEO strategy.
With all the social services currently competing to have their social add buttons across the web (a quick look at addthis.com shows over one hundred services with buttons to choose from) button fatigue becomes a real issue. Having too many buttons may just confuse users and have them not clicking on any of them. I would suggest not having more than 4 and removing ones fairly quickly that are showing little impact relative to others. The choice on the +1 button, as I said earlier, comes down to your model. If you are a straight through affiliate site, relying primarily on organic and paid traffic with little retention then the +1 button is your number one and may suffice being the only button. This is because most users will be more likely to share the sites your linking to rather than your own site, all you want is better organic rankings and better ads click through rates. If you are an affiliate that tries to retain a customer base through value add the choice becomes a bit harder as the Facebook like button is probably the number one thing you want.
As always making measurements on your choices and iterating depending on the numbers will lead to the best results.