Google +1

Posted: March 31st, 2011   |   Category: Case Studies | Industry News | Search | Social | Strategy | Tools

New ‘Social’ Search Tool Added to Google

Even though Google has made various efforts in the past to increase the level of social feedback on specific results (examples: Buzz, soon to be released Google Circles, results blocking, etc), they are always looking for more ways to improve on the overall search experience with users.

Of course, this makes sense, as search is their bread and butter.  Making search more relevant ensures that they remain in the marketplace and social platforms don’t push them into oblivion.

The process is simple:  be logged in and click on the ‘+1’ button that shows with the results page.

Here’s how Google describes the button:

This concept and button will position Google well to compete with TweetMeme and Facebook’s ‘Like’ button, as well as other social ‘approval’ services like AddThis.

Of course, Google’s +1 button has the opportunity to create substantially more relevance than anything within a social platform like Facebook because there are no limits on the audience size and their feedback on specific things like pasta recipes, best bikes, favourite movies and so on.

Which +1s to Show?

How will Google know which +1’s to show you? Like social search, Google will likely use various signals to identify the most useful recommendations, including things like the people you are already connected to through Google (your chat buddies and contacts, for example). Eventually, Google will also incorporate other signals, such as your connections on sites like Twitter, to ensure your recommendations are as relevant as possible. If you want to know who you’re connected to, and how, visit the “Social Circle and Content” section of the Google Dashboard.

Of course, you have to be a Googler in order to enjoy +1 response and responsibility.  You have to create a Google profile or upgrade an existing one. You can use your profile to see all of your +1’s in one place, and delete those you no longer want to recommend. To see +1’s in your Google search results you’ll need to be logged into your Google Account.

The Down Side

You knew I’d have to bring up a ‘down side’, didn’t you?

There are actually several:  the main issue is the continued migration of personal information to Google’s ‘black box of everything they know about you but nothing you know about Google’.  If you’re going to use this service, be sure to purge your collection of +1s over time.  Your favourite movie now or political leader may change over time and you don’t really want that to be a permanent feature for someone else to find.

The other drawback is that you’ve got to be logged in to enjoy a higher level of relevance.  Some may say this is extremely important, but a simple search should still be exactly that.

Finally, like all of these tools (especially Facebook’s ‘Like’ button), this tool will be open to abuse, but I see that it probably won’t be as bad as the array of empty ‘Likes’ that you’re seeing in the marketplace today.  With that in mind, the first company to create an app related to generating and maximizing the number of +1s for your organization will win the game!

Bill Wittur
Managing Director
Bottree Digital Services

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