The world of search engine optimization is ever-changing, thanks in part to Google's continuous leaps and bounds that alter the way we search and share information on the web. The latest development is called "+1" and is most easily compared to Facebook's "share" feature, according to a recent post on the topic from SEOmoz. When you search in Google in the U.S., you'll soon see a "+1" icon next to each listing, which searchers can click on to indicate that they like a particular site. The total number of +1s will be indicated next to each listing, and any user's +1s will be archived in their personal Google profile.
You'll also see what +1s others in your network have added. For instance, if you search for San Diego assisted living, you'll see that others in your area or people that you're connected to have +1-ed certain listings, almost like an instant personal recommendation. With Google now fully embracing the social nature of the web, user-generated preferences are now a major component of search engine optimization. Google first increased the importance of tweets and Facebook shares by incorporating these results in search, and it's clear that they have an impact on search engine placement. This next step further solidifies Google's commitment to the social web, and they've even made it clear that +1 will have an impact on search results.
How you can use +1 to boost assisted living marketing
The first thing to know is that your senior living facility's reputation could now have a major impact on search engine positioning. Prior to this change, for example, any assisted living facility knowledgeable in SEO best practices could obtain good search placement by using the right tactics. That will still be possible, but if you offer stellar service and have satisfied residents and families, they'll be more likely to +1 your listing than if your facility offers mediocre service. All those +1s can add up to a significant boost in your rankings.
Even better, the next step in Google's +1 plan will enable publishers to embed +1 icons on their web pages so users can +1 any content directly from a website. This is very similar to the Facebook share and Twitter retweet buttons you see just about everywhere. This will be an essential step to encourage visitors to +1 your content, as users are more likely to indicate approval for content while on the page, and most won't bother to make sure they +1 something after they've already hit their browser's back button.
Now more than ever, real-world marketing and reputation management will tie in directly with SEO and online marketing efforts. We see this as a huge development, as the web becomes a more integral component of an overall marketing and brand management strategy. Senior living providers who until now ignored the importance of the web in obtaining leads and building awareness will soon be embracing the value of the world wide web for real-time customer engagement.