Last week Google announced the launch of +1, a new social layer in search. I won't bother recapping the news, but the short story is, there's now a +1 button on Google search results to indicate if you or someone you know (or don't know) likes that Web page.
Here's a list of 10 things I love (+10) and hate (-10) about this new feature.
1. The name. I get it. Each person who likes a page counts as +1 vote.
2. The positioning. Google is calling this "word of mouth marketing in Google search." The most powerful marketing tactic of all time meets the most powerful marketing tactic of the technology era. What more could you want?!?
3. Incorporating more social signals into search results. I've said for a while that Google needs a social network so it can generate more relevant and personal results. This should help.
4. You have to be signed in to a Google account to see it. +1 is a great way to get more people creating Google profiles. As we all know, the value of a social network is only as big as the number of people in it.
5. Potential impact for PPC. This will be a great signal for advertisers about how good their ads are. But then again, so is click rate. Speaking of click rates, they should go way up with ads that have +1's.
6. +1s show on the actual search results pages. For searchers, this is an easy way to find relevant listings. I've definitely been taking notice of listings that have Twitter integration.
7. The video announcing the launch. Great, easy way to understand what +1 is all about.
8. Google is finally in the social game. In the Q4 Google earnings call, we were told that Sergey Brin would be focused on product development, with figuring out social his first order of business. This is by no means the social solution for Google, but it's a great first step. Well, technically, it's probably Google's fourth or fifth step in social -- but +1 is a great step forward.
9. Gives publishers an alternative to Facebook. Google will soon be rolling out a +1 button to publishers to embed on their sites. Now Facebook (and Twitter and Digg, et al) will no longer be the only keeper of the "database of interests." Soon Google will have explicit indications of content value beyond mere backlinks and blacklists.
10. The unanswered questions. There is tons of possibility here. All the speculating on what Google is really up to with +1, and where it might be going with social, is one of the reasons I love this industry. For example, will the authority of who +1'd a site be taken into account?
1. The name. Does Google really think +1 will become a verb likes its company name did? And, for some odd reason, Google includes an apostrophe for past tense and possessive. I suppose the separation between numbers and letters helps but it's (yes, the apostrophe belongs there!) all just a bit weird-looking to me.
2. The positioning. Are search results really the place for "word of mouth" marketing? What's next, opening up my email so everyone can send me their status updates?!? Oh, wait.
3. Incorporating more social signals into search results. I can just hear the +1 farms revving up to game the system.
4. You have to be signed in to a Google account to see it. I guess this is necessary for the functionality to work, but that doesn't mean I can't hate it. I'll still never know what websites my mom really likes unless I'm on Facebook (or if hell freezes over and she gets a Google account). Plus, my wife "likes" things for me all the time. Now I have to remember to sign out of Gmail on the home computer too!
5. Potential impact for PPC. This heavily favors the big advertisers that have budgets for full coverage on popular terms that generate more exposure and inevitably more +1s... sorry, +1's. How can the little guys compete? And what happens when you change a landing page? Do you lose your +1 juice? And what about accidental clicks on that little button right next to the hyperlinked ad title? Currently, advertisers can't opt out from having +1's appended to their ads -- so the best (and only) advice is to monitor closely and react accordingly.
6. +1's show on the actual search results pages. Shouldn't you vote after you visit the site? Presumably that will come when webmasters are allowed to embed +1 buttons -- but for now, the chronology seems off.
7. The video announcing the launch. Comparing +1'ing something to writing a yellow sticky note and putting it on the fridge for your family or roommate to see is the wrong analogy. With a sticky note, you know the person for whom you're making a recommendation. Clicking a +1 is just a mass signal that you like something -- not that a particular friend or family member will like it and needs to pay attention. It'd be cool if you could tag people in +1's so they know this recommendation is specifically for them.
8. Google is late to the social game. +1 does not break any new ground in the industry. It's just Google's version of the Facebook's Like button. Google Wave and Google Buzz were too far ahead of their time. +1 seems a bit behind.
9. Gives publishers an alternative to Facebook. Seriously, how many flipping social buttons do we need on every article?!?
10. The unanswered questions. I just hate not knowing! See #3 above. And add this: will Google create a -1 button? At the last Search Insider Summit, Dave Tan (who, ironically, just took a job with Google) advocated for a "hate" button on Facebook to balance the likes with another strong social signal. Same theory applies here. Wouldn't you also like to know if people dislike a piece of content?
Ah, the Joy of Tech.