Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Google's +1 Button Can Help Sports Blogs

Working at Google, I've been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly intelligent and creative people on the cutting edge of technology.

Let me rephrase: I've been fortunate enough to sit somewhere near the middle of technology, clutching my English degree, while some great Google colleagues of mine carve out new edges to this tech-driven world of ours...

As of today, Google officially launched the +1 (that's "plus-one") button, focusing their core product (search) around people even more so and allowing your social networks to hold sway over your entire online experience.

This is an amazing opportunity for sports bloggers. In this post, I'll outline exactly what you should know and what you should do.

So, what is this +1 button?

The simple answer: it's a means for users (including your readers or other bloggers) to find recommendations from people they trust when they need them the most (when they search for them, for instance).

The more in-depth answer: I'll hand that one over to the Google marketing team. I'd also check out the video in my first link above.

Why should I care?

The +1 button will help your current blog readers more easily recommend and share your site with their networks. It will also help you see what your readers or other bloggers are recommending and reading across the web, thus expanding your understanding of your readers and of sites out there that sports fans are interested in!

How does this all work?

Let's use this site as an example. If my friend Tamiz is my only reader, and he has 10 connections in Gmail "My Contacts", Gmail chat, Google Reader and more, he can easily recommend my site to those connections simply by clicking +1 next to on Google. 

Now, of course I'd love for all 10 to read my blog. Since Tamiz has hit +1, he's letting his network know that they should check out my site! When his 10 connections find my link on Google too, they'll now see "Tamiz +1'd this" below my link.

His endorsement sticks to my URL and will now show to his network when that network is seeking a recommendation.

Instant endorsement. Instant attention.

My site stands out to those 10 people because someone they know or trust, Tamiz, has recommended it. Think of the possibilities -- the more +1's given to your site, the more people are going out on the web to their connections and recommending you. And not just recommending you one time in your news feed, but recommending you at the moment people are searching and actively want a recommendation.

What should I do?

This is only available on a small percent of US search traffic for now, and it only pulls from the sources mentioned here. So here's what you should do:
  1. Notice one source in the link above is Google Reader? Know what type of site is perfect to be followed via Reader? Exaaactly! Make sure your readers know to follow you via Reader.
  2. +1 your own link and have your network to do the same (quick way: search for your URL on Google). To get started +1’ing the stuff you like, you’ll need to create a Google profile—or if you already have one, upgrade it.
  3. Sign up to receive an update for when the +1 button is eventually available for websites. The more places you can be +1'd, the more people are out there hyping your blog.
Got questions? Leave them in the comments! What do you think of the +1 idea? What other ways are people publicly endorsing your blog?

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