Is Google+1 already the most important button to add to your site?

When I started building sites again (I started again in 2007 having had a few sites around 1999), Google search traffic was the traffic source to be going after. While there were of course other traffic sources for certain verticals (slashdot, digg, reddit e.t.c.), if you weren’t at or near the top in the Google SERPs, you were nowhere.

Fast forward to today and with the rise and rise of twitter and facebook, while organic Google traffic is for many sites still the main or a very large source of traffic, there are also social alternatives that can bring a great deal of traffic.

At the end of March Google announced the +1 button, a button similar to twitter’s tweet button and Facebook’s like button. Only a few months later Larry Page announced on the Google Q2 earnings call that users are already clicking the +1 buttons 2.3 billion times a day.

The +1 button is in itself an interesting proposition, being a sort of meta social network even before the release of the google plus social network proper.
It draws on your social graph from Gmail and Talk contacts, Reader and Buzz followings and of course now Google+ circles. Drawing from that graph, it shows next to search results your contacts have “+1’d”.

While Facebook and Twitter shares can deliver a viral (but usually) short term traffic boost, +1 can create a long-lasting increase in traffic to the +1’d page (by way of increased click through rate from the SERP).
Google’s result pages have been getting busier over the last couple of years, but +1’s and the experimental authorship initiative[1] will create a competitively advantageous highlighting effect to certain results.

This is of course without mentioning the potential for Google using the +1 data in its search ranking algorithms. Google has already been using Facebook like and share data and presumably until the end of the twitter data deal it was/is using tweet data as ‘social proof’ too. The folks over at SEOmoz have carried some excellent testing to determine just how much of an influence this data has on rankings.

Luckily for you, the Google+1 button is also one of the easiest buttons to add to your pages. While Facebook requires you to add various XML namespaces and open graph tags (including specifying the page URL) to your document head, the Google+1 button crawls this data automatically.

As an experiment, I’ve just finished adding the +1 button in a prominent area on Arsenal News, a well established site relevant to this article only in that it currently gets a significant proportion of its visitors from twitter. I’m going to be adding the button to most (if not all) of my sites soon, but I will watch this one in particular with interest, to see if the addition changes the traffic mix at all.

[1] – And I’ll be adding the rel=author tag to my google+ wordpress plugin in one of the next updates. back to post

googleCard – google+ hovercard style box in PHP

In this post I’m going to show you how to scrape google+ with PHP (in lieu of a google+ api) and create a simple contact card / badge / widget thing for your site or blog.


(top) unformatted (bottom) google+ card

The googleCard scraper class currently outputs the target user’s name, profile image, google+ url and the number of people who have them in circles (are following their posts).

The full php code for the google+ scraper is available at github, so if you know what you’re doing you can just skip the blurb and download it from there.

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Possibly the first ever Google+ app created

Yesterday night Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten posted on Google+ announcing Social Statistics, which keeps track of the top 100 users of Google+. It’s the first thing we have seen that could be described of a Google plus ‘app’. Boris had stated that he was updating the site manually, however you would think it shouldn’t taken too long to knock together a scraper.

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How to apply for Google plus api notifications

When Google launched it’s Google+ beta, it did so without exposing an api to developers.

Given that the site is yet to fully launch and core changes to the site are still probable, we’re certainly not saying this was a bad idea. However for the future, Google will know that creating a platform for developers to build on is a necessity for creating stickiness and building user participation in their new social venture.
Obvious examples of where social networking APIs have helped the social networks are the huge success of casual social gaming on Facebook, and the boost to the early proliferation of Twitter enabled by 3rd party developers creating clients for a broad spectrum of user devices.

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Google+ Devs launched

In spite of the lack a Google+ API, some developers have already begun creating apps for Google’s new social platform.

I decided I’d create this blog to help keep track of happenings and new releases in the Google+ ecosystem, to share thoughts on the platform and code snippets for interacting with Google+.
It might be a little bare around here until Google releases and API but only time will tell what developers will come up with once Google opens up the platform.

I hope you’re as excited as me about the prospects for Google+.