Google rolled out the +1 button in the SERPs on March 2011. It has a similar function as a Facebook Like which lets people in your social network know that you agree with a particular post. The +1 showed up next to results links. Moreover, you’ll see the names of your family and friends beneath the URLs if they clicked on the button.
According to Google, the +1 is digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” Essentially, it enables users to share their recommendations with others right in the SERPs. The social mechanisms at the time entailed having to explicitly share a link on your social media profiles for them to be useful. With the update, you just need to click on the button when, for example, you found a link that had been of immense help in solving your problems to inform others, who are going through similar issues, that a particular blog is a credible source of information.
There are three ways that the +1 increases a search result’s relevance:
Google looks at several signals to determine the most useful recommendations for +1, similar to social search. The search engine looks at data such as your contacts and chat buddies to display relevant information.
User experience for search improved since there’s an added layer of trust in the results pages with the +1’d links. Google enhanced the feature from social search and integrated these recommendations directly in the SERPs. As a result, search quality got better and more relevant.
This feature was also rolled out for Google AdWords, which caused anxiety for a few webmasters since there’s a risk of accidentally hitting the ad link and costing advertisers money. Nonetheless, Google was confident that most brands would reap its benefits since their testing showed that clickthrough rates for +1’d ads increased.
In October 2018, Google announced that it would be shutting down the consumer version of Google+ due to low usage and engagement. Its downfall may have been caused by the security breach that happened earlier that year which exposed users’ profile data.
The shutdown was implemented on April 2, 2019, which witnessed the deletion of accounts and pages. It’s expected that the process will take months to complete and implies that users can still access the platform at this time to get the data that they want to preserve.
While Google+ and the +1 button is no longer active today, other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube still play a significant role in your SEO through: