Google +1 = Another Social Play for The Search Giant

Another week, another tweak from Google.  This week Google announced it will be launching a new feature called ‘+1’ which amounts to a somewhat simpler version of Facebook’s ‘like’ button.

Here’s how it will work.  When you run a search on Google, a little +1 button will begin appearing next to each result – this includes all organic and paid results.  When you click on the button, the result will get a little vote from you as to its quality.  Right now, there is actually a little pop-up window that will ask you to confirm your +1 selection and give you some options about how your vote is shared with others.  Google says they will be rolling out the +1 feature slowly, beginning with English searches on Google.com.

But wait, there’s another wrinkle.  To see the new +1 feature, you need to be logged in to your Google Profile.  Don’t already have a Google Profile?  Me neither (even though the feature has been around for two years).  I set one up today just so I could see how the +1 feature works.  Once you get a Profile set up, there is one other step you need to take to get an early look at +1, since it hasn’t yet been rolled out.  You can become part of the early test group by visiting Google’s Experimental Search Site, and joining the +1 experiment.  It also looks like you may need to upgrade your Google Profile in order to see how others are voting with their +1 clicks.  With the upgraded account, you can connect with other Profile users and you will see +1 votes from your friends, when they provide one on a site that comes up in one of your searches.  Got all that?

Initially, +1 activity will not impact Quality Scores or ad rankings, but they will be included in the algorithm used to determine natural search ranking.  In the near future, Google is expected to allow websites to include a +1 button on their sites, similar to how Facebook has rolled out its like buttons across the web.

Requiring users to create and be logged in to a Google Profile seems like a pretty big barrier to getting a lot of traction with this new feature.  While I’m sure plenty of people have Google Profiles, it is still only a small percentage of overall Google users.  Learning that I need to not only have a Profile, but also take the time to connect to all of my friends’ Profiles in order to get the full effect of +1 is another stumbling block for me.  I already have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media profiles on other sites.  Is it really worth it for me to build and actively maintain another one for Google?  I’m thinking that there needs to be more in it for me than just +1 and/or the process needs to be really, really easy and require little or no updating or future interaction, once I get everything set up.

Why should you care about any of this?  Any time Google changes how its search rankings are generated or introduces a new factor into its algorithm, online marketers should take notice.  Many of these little features end up falling by the wayside or never catching on, but plenty of them become ingrained into the search engine’s basic functions and do impact search activity and results.  While Google’s forays into social media have been mostly lackluster, they haven’t stopped.  Barring a partnership with Facebook to include like buttons in search results, I think that Google will probably make a big push to have +1 become popular.  Certainly from an SEO standpoint, this will become one more factor for marketers to include in their efforts.

If you happen to go through the trouble to check out the early version of +1, let me know what you think.

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  • Betternotsay

    I dont think this is going to be popular.

    • I tend to agree. Unless they make it a lot easier. Requiring people to have a Google Profile and be logged in to use the feature is a lot to ask just to be able to click on or view a +1 on search results. There has to be a lot more value to get people to jump through the hoops.

  • Brenhiggins

    This is interesting but informative. I think it’ll be unwise to ignore this.

    • It will be interesting to see if it catches on. Because of the steps users need to take to use the feature, I don’t see it getting widespread use right now. But, with the huge number of Google users, even if a relatively small percentage of them use it, there could still be a pretty significant number of users overall. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Google tweaked it a bit so that it was more readily available to more users.

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