As you all know, Google has introduced its new “+1” feature in their search result which has the same functionality as the Facebook “Like” button. When that button is clicked, that result is “Publicly approved” it means, simply. When you +1 something, your name becomes associated with that link “in search, on ads, and across the web,” according to the company. It also shows up in a feed on your Google Profile, which is required to use the product. Now, here I am discussing the effects of this new +1 service by Google.
+1 might change the nature of personalization. The difference between a standard result and a personalized result could get bigger and that would be an interesting SEO development. Right now, Google’s personalization doesn’t disrupt traditional SEO. Google (and a lot of SEOs) talk about it a lot and they have increased the number of queries they personalize, but the personalization is still rather subtle in nature. A result might move up and down a place or two, but not from the top of page 1 to the middle of page 2.
Right now you can only +1 within Google, but when buttons are introduced they’ll function a lot more like a Facebook Like. At that point, Google can mine both your personal social graph (your friends who have +1’d items) but also the +1 graph (the popularity of an item based on all +1 activity.) All these +1 items also flow into a Google Profile, which you have to think will become some sort of social nexus where further meta information can be attached. Social proof, curation and the wisdom(?) of crowds may become more important.
As Google begins to look at the +1 data, they may be able to find individuals who have more influence. Not just overall influence but influence for a specific topic. This means that over time Google could weight a +1 from one individual on a sliding scale. A +1 from me on an SEO site might carry a lot of weight, while a +1 from me on a knitting site might carry little weight. By mapping topical influence, Google may be able to avoid +1 gaming.
Having a competing ‘Like’ functionality is a bit like throwing dust into your competitor’s eyes. Google can claim some level of success if Google +1 slows the adoption or ubiquity of Facebook’s Like button. From an SEO perspective this might mean a longer wait for Facebook’s true search intentions or an acceleration of those plans.
Will it work?
All that said, I’m not sure Google +1 will survive. It’s a rather heavy feature on the page. Do we really need more to look at? And will the mainstream user grok the +1 nomenclature. I do, but will the normal user? Facebook was brilliant in using a term and icon that was instantly recognizable. Finally, I find the +1 mechanism strange in search results. Am I supposed to search, visit a site and return to the SERP to +1 that result? It’ll make a lot more sense when there are Google +1 buttons and the search results reflect the +1 count from that page.
Search, it’s never boring. What say?