+10 And -10 For Google +1

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 greatway 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 theauthority 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.

7 comments about "+10 And -10 For Google +1".
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  1. Michael Wills from SMG Search, April 6, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.

    When I heard about the plus one button the first thing I asked my rep was about the possible addition of a -1 button, I was told that there are no plans for one.

    Social media is in a place right now where everything is good, partly because there is no place to voice displeasure, i.e. you can either like something or remain silent. In my expierence, people who tend voice their opinions are either people who really like something or people who really dislike something, and since right now there is only the option to like something, we are potentially missing out on about half of respondents. One example would be to look at the number of Amazon reviews, most ratings are either 5's or 1's, not many 2's or 3's.

    My fear is that until there is an option to dislike / -1 things, the general feeling regarding social media will be that everything is great since so many people "like" it. As this feeling grows, so will advertiser investment in social media, until we see the addition of a means to voice displeasure. I am fearful that if a dislike / -1 button were to be added, that investment in social media would begin to decline. Any time an advertiser sees a sitaution where something could ultimately reflect bad on the brand, they tend to shy away, e.g. a dislike button. Once we see this type of integration in social media we may see a decline in investment and ultimately a decline in the corporate supported end of that industry.

    By no means is any of this written in stone, but just basing my comments on personal experience and industry trends.

  2. Lee Odden from TopRank Marketing, April 6, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.

    The big Google +1 Fail here is number 6. There is little value and relevance in signal for a +1 before the user has even seen the full web page.

    Maybe +1 is really a hidden attempt at crowdsourcing search results quality, since that's what the act of voting will do: rate search results, not web pages.

    Once the +1 can be embedded like FB likes, the real data collection in terms of useful social signal will begin. Google should take it a step further an incorporate its URL shortening service with analytics viewable within the Webmaster Tools dashboard. Now THAT would be useful.

  3. Alex Sepulveda from Rewire Marketing, April 6, 2011 at 11:46 a.m.

    I have a different take on +1, and don't necessarily see it as a social play. At this point it would be tremendously difficult for Google to compete with Facebook, and I don't see them making a concerted effort to do so.

    +1 is an effort to crowd source quality assurance of search results, and to help combat a spammy index riddled with articles from content farms and the like.

    This is the same reason Google introduced a Spam "button" next to the titles of search engine results. In his article above Aaron asks, "[W]ill Google create a -1 button?" and indeed that is what the Spam button is. The +1 button is its positive analog.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 6, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.

    What an incredible stupid time suck and invasion of privacy on so many levels I couldn't begin to mention without a tretise. No way would I ever want to see who and how many people are searching for the same thing I am and no way in hell do I ever want anyone to snoop into what I am looking for. This is so big brother that big brother is confused. Health services, not to mention costs, job denials may be on the top of these lists. And the very stupid people who sign up for this garbage will never know why they have been refused acceptance for what they need. If they ever do, then, too bad - too late. Have they got a tent for you. Go sell 5 cent apples.

  5. Steve Bertolacci from For Rent Media Solutions, April 6, 2011 at 3:24 p.m.

    I think it may be a little hasty to jump to all those conclusions listed above and in the comments. From a user standpoint, Google as a social service has already been well adopted. I can only speak for the 10+ M monthly unique visitors that I deal with and the AddThis functionality as the mechanism, but here's what share services people are using: Facebook 15.5%; Google 10.9%; Twitter 3.8%; Messenger 2.9%; others including email 67%. A year ago, Google was very far down the list, but their services have been steadily increasing their adoption rate.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that Google has a lot of user behavior data that they do not disclose. They know from the first pass of the X button (or -1) how many people used on it's first run. The data is still there as is the blocked sites, but the display of the button has been heavily reduced. But where Google has the inside scoop is the number of people who search on Google, click the listing, then hit back to either run a more refined search, or find a better listing. It's the first case that they're after with +1. That way people can search using Google, flag what they like, and see more of what they like.

    And the part 2 of the whole +1 thing is to put that button on the website page itself. This way, a user seeing the site for the first time, may already see how many votes the page had on Google's listing, then be able to vote +1 on that page when they view the page.

    Related to this, from within the users' social graph, which includes Facebook and Twitter among other social signals, they can pick up who else +1'd, liked, shared, or whatever that particular page/listing.

    Regarding privacy concerns, Google has done a better job at making sure users know and are reminded about how public their data is. So if you don't want your voting information shared, you can either not share or hide it. As a word of warning, if you don't want people knowing what you're doing on a computer, then you should have the security set to the maximum possible and always browse in Privacy Mode.

  6. Jay Sullivan from BrandingRain, April 6, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.

    What intrigues me about +1 is including a -1 as well. We are awash with content offering information, opinion, suggestions. We respond to this either thoughtfully (when we have the time) or with some irritation (to cut through the dross out there). If I could express my preferences and improve access to content more meaningful to my interests, I am all for it. I understand the risks of unbalanced information feeds, but these risks exist already.

    I am also intrigued with how sentiment information could be gathered that helps owners of brands understand what they are doing well or poorly for their brand communities.

  7. Jim Rudnick from CanuckSEO, April 7, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.

    re: the -1 button....ain't that a YELP 1Star review?



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