It appears so. We we doing some social media work and realized that the Google Plus One button that used to appear right next to the URL in the search result is no longer there.
The following screen shot shows what past results looked like:
Search engine watch outlined past changes to the plus one button. Google has been regularly testing different options for location, issues with load time and hover effects.
It appears that Google has replace the plus one button with a “Share” link that appears when you hover over the SERP result.
The link only appears if the user is logged into their Google+ account. Instead adding the listing to your list of plus ones, clicking the link opens a window to post the SERP listing to your Google+ Wall.
Why the change?
We are not completely sure when this change took place, but it is not more than a few weeks old. We also aren’t completely sure of the reason for the change. Perhaps Google trying to increase interaction on Google+ profiles, or maybe past bloggers who suggested the buttons slowed SERP load time were correct.
However, it is our opinion that having the plus one button directly in the SERPs made it way too easy for someone to click “+1″ for many pages quickly. This could create a SPAMMY Google +1 profile for certain sites and pages. Now users must visit each page they want to plus one independently and click on the button (assuming it is installed on that site).
It is also possible that Google is just phasing the button out because it has not been successful except within the marketing community to try and inflate search results.
What it Means for Your Website
If you don’t do this already, you need to make sure it is very easy for people to share your website content on all the major social sites with the share buttons for Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and any other sites you are active on. You should already be doing this, but it is never too late to start.
WordPress offers many easy to use social share plugins to get these on your site quickly. Most other CRMs offer the same. You can also search Google for the embed code for each site and manually add them to your source code.
What are your thoughts?
Any insight on the sudden change? Do you think it is permanent or Google is just testing things out as usual? Leave your thoughts in the comments.