Google Now Lets Website Owners Measure The Power Of +1 (And Any Other Social Widget)

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Back in March, Google officially started rolling out the +1 Button in its search results, allowing users to vote up the pages they found most useful. Two months later, on June 1, it launched a widget that lets website owners integrate the button into their pages, just like they do with Facebook’s ‘Like’ and Twitter’s ‘Tweet’ buttons.

But, err, it wasn’t really clear what the point was. People kept clicking the button, but the effect — better search results for our friends — isn’t really tangible. And it isn’t really clear to site owners how much of an impact the button’s having, either.

Today, that changes: Google has just announced that +1 data will be displayed in Google’s Webmaster tools, allowing site owners to see exactly how much of an effect +1 is having. You’ll now be able to see how many +1 a page has in total, and what impact that has on Clickthrough Rates.

And Google has another trick up its sleeves too — it’s going to also give you analytics on any other social widget you have installed, like Facebook’s Like Button. Update: This feature requires site admins to add an additional piece of code, see the Google post for instructions.

Here’s how Google breaks down the new features for social widgets:

  • The Social Engagement report lets you see how site behavior changes for visits that include clicks on +1 buttons or other social actions. This allows you to determine, for example, whether people who +1 your pages during a visit are likely to spend more time on your site than people who don’t.
  • The Social Actions report lets you track the number of social actions (+1 clicks, Tweets, etc) taken on your site, all in one place.
  • The Social Pages report allows you to compare the pages on your site to see which are driving the highest the number of social actions.

The value of +1 for users as opposed to site owners will likely come not just from improved search results, but also from integration in Google+, the social network that it launched yesterday. That’s assuming, of course, that people keep using it once it launches to everyone (I’m liking it so far).