In today’s ever-competitive online ecosphere, the battle over rankings and social media platforms continues to grow. First there was MySpace and LinkedIn. Soon after, Facebook and Twitter sprung up. YouTube and Tumblr continued to grow. And now, Google+, the fastest growing social network in online history, is clearly making its presence felt in search engine results.

The +1 Button

Perhaps you’ve seen the little +1 button popping up everywhere? But you’re not sure what it is? Similar to the Facebook ‘like’ button, the Google ‘+1’ button can be featured on your website, your blog, your video or any anything else you want to promote. When users click ‘+1,’ your rating goes up and user interest is generated.

But the key benefit of the ‘+1’ button is that the activity is fed back into Google’s search engine results. While this doesn’t directly boost your search engine rankings (not immediately, anyway), the ‘+1’ button is crucial in both increasing the click-through-rate to your site and also in improving how much your content is shared on other platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The ‘+1’ is been called a “stamp of approval” – and the more “stamps” your content has, the more likely it is that new users will access it. As Keith Kaplan on states, “when a user searches for the same phrase, the results might display the total number of +1’s a link has received, which is another validation that it’s a relevant link.”

Why does this matter? Well, more relevancy = more traffic, more sharing and more referencing. And this, in turn, can lead to a higher SEO ranking for your business.

Google+ Circles

With the incorporation of ‘Circles’ in Google+, users now benefit from being able to share content with a chosen number of connections in particular circles or groups.

This means that when you post content on your Google+ page or if someone “+1’s” your content or site, this will be visible to everyone in your circles (or the circles of those rating your blog or site). In this way, circles can be used to promote awareness of your business – the more people hear about your business, the more likely your traffic will increase, which in turn can impact your sales dramatically.

Search plus Your World

Google also recently launched “Search plus Your World” – a search function that personalizes a user’s search results, returning content not only from the public web, but also from their Google+ connections, profiles, posts and business pages.

So, when users conduct searches using ‘Search plus your World’, Google+ business pages and brand pages now have a chance of ranking higher than content and pages featured on other social sites.