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Google's +1 Experiment In Social Media

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Google’s +1 Experiment In Social Media

It’s been a few weeks since Google announced the introduction of its Plus One (+1) button to search results and websites. Now that the hype has died down let’s assess if this will be a winner and finally allow Google to find its place within the media market . If Google +1 takes off are you ready to take advantage of it?

Goolge +1

The Google +1 button is designed to be the Google equivalent of the Facebook Like button. Although it was initially implemented for Google users in the U.S, Google are starting to roll it out to other countries and users in Ireland can now opt in to see the +1button when they do searches on while logged into their Google account.

The +1 button will appear beside search results and Google AdWords and publishers will also have the ability to place the button on their own website to allow visitors to +1 content they like in the same way that you might Facebook Like a blog post or other content you find on the web. Google recommends that you should ‘Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval.’ The Google Video that explains +1 is available here:

What’s wrong about +1?

It’s perfectly obvious to everyone that this is Google’s version of the Facebook ‘Like’ button so why not just call it a Like button instead of +1? Facebook can hardly trademark the word ‘Like’ and YouTube which is now owned by Google, also uses a Like button with a thumbs up below videos, so why did Google not just place its own version of a Like button below search results also? It would mean that the concept would be immediately familiar to people instead of having to explain the concept of +1 to them. As we all know any concept that takes a lot of explaining is not likely to be a commercial success.

In action, on search result pages the +1 button is not very obvious and it is faded out until you roll over it so it looks like it is inactive. Also, by placing the +1 button in search results is Google asking people to recommend a website before they have even visited it? Does this mean that Google expects people to remember if they visited that site before and if they liked it to recommend it the next time they see it in a search result?

Google +1 in action

Example of the Google +1 buttons in action

Since this seems the case it would mean that the Title and Description meta tags that people use on their web pages are now even more important because as well as using these meta tags to help your ranking for  keywords and entice people to click on your site in the search results, you may now also have to put some text in your Title or Description tag to encourage people to +1 it when they see it in a search result.

The Facebook Like button works as people have already Liked a business page or friended someone so when they see a status update from them they are much more likely to hit the Like button. The same can not be said for search results or ads as until the person visits the site they really don’t know if they like it enough to recommend or click +1 . The version of the +1 button that publishers can put on their website is much closer to the Facebook Like button in this sense.

Details of the +1 button that publishers can put on their website or blog have not yet been released by Google. You can sign up to be notified when the code is released here:
Personally I’m really looking forward to the WordPress +1 Plugin.

Let’s hope that Google use the Facebook model and do not require people to be logged into their Google accounts to be able to see the +1 button on a website. With Facebook, anyone can see the Like button on a website and when they click it they are propmpted to Login to Facebook to Like or Share the material. Many people with Gmail accounts do not realise that they have a Google account or profile. Google need to increase awareness and improve the messaging around Google accounts and profiles if the +1 button is to have its Facebook moment. Thoughts?

Social Media and Content Specialist at Sage Ireland.

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  • Hi Beatrice, I think it’s a good idea to incorporate people (like) into search, and would imagine that this is probably the first of a series of moves by Google in this direction. Google does search well, but by incorporating it’s users in an intelligent way, it can potentially make searching for information and people much easier. I take your point about liking a website before you’ve seen it, which seems illogical to me too, that said I’m finding that I’m depending more and more of my online communities and connections when needed info, so If Google succeeds in bringing search and social together in an intelligent way, It’s on to a winner in my book!

  • Well done Beatrice! nnGreat post. I also believe that it’s a poor move to not call it ‘like’. It’s amazing how little people know about Google outside of search really and +1 is not adding to adoption. Everyone knows about like so why not take advocates on board as opposed to trying to win them over to what will be perceived as being another application for everyone to get their head around. I’m with you on this one! nnChat soon

  • Totally agree with your point – tis a bit strange to be asked to like a search when you haven’t even visited the site and why would one return to the search page again, will be interesting to see how it all pans out though. Thanks a mill for the explanationnLorna

  • Hi Niall,nnThe combination of Social influence with the traditional search algorithm is definately the way for Google to go but the issue is how best they should do it. It might have been better if they put effort into getting people to use and understand their Google public profile more and then once that is achieved they can allow people to recommend links from that profile. Google profiles are still not mainstream, nearly everyone I know is on Facebook but I never hear anyone mention they were in their Google profile. Gmail seems to be pretty mainstream so perhaps they should look at it from that point of view, expanding Gmail into a social network and then allowing people to search the web from Gmail and then recommend links from there.

  • Thanks for all of the positive feedback. I am going to go into my Google profile right now and start connecting and +1ing links – we might as well give Google all of the help they need!

  • Hi Beatrice, great answer! I don’t think I can disagree with any of it 🙂

  • If Google are tapping into it, then the power of ‘likes’ is sure to increase. I do agree with you Beatrice, that the word ‘like’ would have worked much better. Then again maybe Google is hoping the new name is much more unique – who knows.nnIf you do have to click the magic button to express a like beforehand, then couldn’t this be a pointless metric or abused by brands and companies?? I’m all for some social integration online, but do worry about manipulation. Rankings has always been about relevancy as opposed to popularity.nWatch this space!

  • Facundo

    Completely agree with you and Beatrice, there is no logic in one having to click on a result that one hasn’t visited. Before anyone says it, it is true that sometimes we “like” posts or content with the FB button without actually reading it fully, but that doesn’t mean that the principle behind it is to like blindly. It also seems to me that Google has missed a first step: Facebook first got us to like like like stuff within Facebook and only then rolled out the button to external sites. In this case Google is rolling it to external sites & search results without having us adopt the +1 somehow before (they can’t). Probably Beatrice’s point that Google should call a “like” a “like” makes even more sense in this race for adoption.

  • Hi Chrstina,nnI agree that manipulation is a significant concern for this. Google have put some regulations in place to make manipulation more difficult, for instance, the +1 button only shows to you if you are logged into your google account while doing the search and to set up a Google account such as a Gmail account you need to verify with a telephone number. This will allow Google to track if numerous clicks on the same +1 button are coming from the same account and then would probably count those as invalid. Google seems to be able to determine invalid clicks on Adwords ads so it should be able to do the same for the +1button. Having said that I’m sure it will be a constant effort from them to ensure they are keeping up with all of the latest tricks from the spammers.

  • I so agree with Sathishkumar – until Google does their part, whose going to use it?

  • i see that button, and i wonder what i am supposed to do with this button :D, with this article its help me little to understand, i think maybe this connected to the new google algorithm, and maybe if one site had a lot of vote from +1 button, this site can get high rank on google, even though with less backlink, this is a new challenge for web owner to serve the best for the surfer, not only junk article

  • u00a0No one knows that Google Profiles exists. When anyone tried to click +1 then google profile sign up page is coming up to register with.

  • The Google Plus 1 is a option that individuals can choose when they go to your website to say that they think you’re the top. It’s an symbol that says, you’re variety one on a individuals record. When someone trips your website, they can hit the option to widely suggest you.

  • Ehtesham hyder

    you are absolutely true but it will help to optimize title tags because at time of search results only a perfect title that could attract searcher attention could get +1 factor.

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