See that “thumbs up” button at the top of this post? It’s a big threat to Google’s search business, and a lot of people in the online marketing community have been waiting for Google to respond.

Well, Google stepped further into more “social” search results this week by introducing their own version of the Facebook Like, a social sharing button dubbed +1. They describe +1 like this:

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

Take a look:

View the video on YouTube.

Here’s what your search results will look like if you see a result that has been +1’ed by one of your connections:

You can see that Mark has +1’ed his property, which is now reflected in my search results.

Google hasn’t rolled this feature out to everyone yet. If you don’t see the +1 button next to search results, you can head over to Google Experiments and request to join the +1 “experiment.” Once you’re “in,” you’ll see the button next to the title in search results (and next to AdWords, too … but that’s a topic for another day).

There are a few things that you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of this new feature to benefit your online marketing efforts:

Update Your Profile

Start here, because you need a public Google profile in order to use +1. Your profile is also one way Google learns about where else you are online (and who you’re connected to there), so make sure your profile info is up-to-date and that you’ve added links to all of the social profiles that you use on a regular basis. Take advantage and feed the machine as much information as possible.

Don’t have a profile yet? Get one here. (Here’s mine to give you an idea of what this looks like.)

Do Something Worth Talking About

I think this one should be a given, but I really can’t emphasize it enough. Social sharing is all about word-of-mouth. You need to do something so interesting, funny, unique, etc. that people will want to tell their friends. (Or you could just sing an incredibly bad teenage pop song.) Be worth talking about at the water cooler or over a beer, and some of that conversation is bound to happen online.

If you’re not doing this in the first place, why would anyone want to recommend you or your website?

Build a Strong Social Presence

There are lots of other reasons why social media can benefit your business, but your prospect’s online social circle is influencing the search results they see now more than ever. Expanding your networks on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites will increase your opportunities to start working your way into these “social” search results. Sharing links to resources besides your own website will help you build a broad, almost-ambient presence over time in your connections’ search results pages.

Get +1 for Your Website

Of course, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make a recommendation for a web page before you’ve visited the page. I’d imagine the only people who will be clicking on the +1 button from the search results will be marketers and SEOs. (Um, guilty.) For everyone else, including the vast majority of your brand’s audience, they’re much more likely to make the recommendation once they get to your site.

That’s why Google soon will be rolling out the +1 button for websites. I’m sure it will be very similar to the Facebook Like, Tweet This and LinkedIn Share buttons … you’ll be able to place it on any page on your site. And yes, you will want to add this to your site. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to your site to share your content with their network.

It’s a bit odd that Google didn’t roll out this feature as part of their initial launch, but you can sign up to get notified when it does become available for your site here.

In any case, when Google makes a move like this, it’s worth watching. It’s clear that social networks will have a huge impact on search, and more importantly, how your brand’s online presence appears in search results. Keep pumping out great stuff, keep growing your network and make sure you’re giving Google as much information as possible about what you’re doing. Do that, and it’ll be +1 for you and your brand.

And while you’re here, why not click that “thumbs up” button below? I’d like that a lot.

[related_posts limit=”3″]