What is Google's +1 and Why Does it Matter?

Written by Robin WildingApril 20, 2011

Surprise!, Google has gone social—again. Google has made yet another foray into the social scene, but this time they made a smarter decision and modeled their new +1 after the already uber successful Facebook Like button. After several unsuccessful attempts, including Orkut, Google Romance, Picasa, Friend Connect, Lively, Wave, Social Search, and Buzz. 

But—this time may be different. Google's +1 resembles a technology already successful and recognizable, the Facebook Like button and a Digg Diggs. The ability to like search results will add an interesting social element to the world's largest search engine. And, most importantly, Google learned from their mistake the last times and are not over-hyping this attempt; Google +1 is coming in like a lamb and should come out as a lion.

Why Does Google +1 Matter?

Even though Google's prior social attempts were fruitless, it is still important to make use of all the tools possible in the Google toolbox. Google is not only the world's biggest search engine, they also own YouTube, Google Buzz, run the largest online advertising company on the planet and so much more. Google is also about to get even bigger as their Chrome browser and cloud-based operating system launch onto the scene. Google Docs is also poised to overtake market share from Microsoft—something previously undone. It is going to be a Google world soon, and the first people to leverage their pending fame will reap the benefits. 

It is only time before Google begins joining all their products together, Social Search, Buzz, +1, Google Ads, Gmail, and all of Google's new cloud-based offering. 

Google +1 is still in its experimental phase, but anybody with a Google-based account (Gmail, Google Reader, etc) can join in and start +1ing.

The Important Questions:

Why is Google doing this?

Short answer: they hate Facebook—a fact obvious in that they haven't incorporated Facebook's API or any other elements of the Internet's other most famous site.

Longer answer: 

Jim Prosser, Google spokesperson gives the official party line when he says, “People consult their friends and other contacts on decisions. It’s a very easy and lightweight way to make search results more relevant.”

Will +1 Monetarily Affect Ads on Google?

Prosser says no, “plus ones on ads do not count as a page click. It’s a free action. He did go on to say that in the near future there will be an opt-in for advertisers, “eventually, all ads will be getting these buttons. First, we’re starting with a small +1 push right now that will include the ads as well.

Do +1s Affect Search Rankings?

No—not yet. Google has expressed interest that this will happen in the near future though. Prosser expressed this when he said “we are not currently changing the ranking system but we’re excited to see what the data looks like going forward.”

They also have intentions of adding other social media apps including Flickr, Quora, Twitter, etc (specifically excluding their arch nemesis Facebook).

When Will the +1s kick in?

Soon. They haven't started appearing en masse yet as Google is keeping this project quieter to avoid over-hyping the technology, but very soon you will see them everywhere.

Will they have an API like Facebook?

Prosser says that the API for web developers will be released within the next few months but so far they have not developed a solution for their advertisers. 

Conclusion

+1 is shaping up to be Google's best social strategy yet, they have learned from the past and adopted a technology that is easy to use, already common, and useful to the user. With their upcoming API +1 will take Google further socially than all of their other social strategies combined. +1 may very well be the missing link for Google. 

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