Google +1: Another Irritating Social Web Button?

Google has a history of social tools that were tried and failed, like Wave and Buzz. People just haven’t connected with these tools the way they do other social media and sharing tools. So now, it’s a bit of a surprise that Google’s trying again with its +1 tool. Essentially, when you search a term, you have the option (once you set it up) to click the “+1” button next to a URL, indicating you like the site.

Google +1

It’s similar to “Like” on Facebook, Digging or Stumbling a site, or retweeting on Twitter. Given these similarities, the question is:  What benefit does it provide?

I get that the idea is to let your network see the sites that you think are valuable, and yes, if I saw a friend had +1’d something I was looking for, I’d probably click on it. But what does it mean for black hat techniques for business? Don’t you think people will start businesses based on guaranteeing to get a company thousands of +1s for a small fee (if they haven’t started this already)?  How will this affect search engine rankings?

And it will take years before my friends and I are searching for the same things and finding one another’s recommendations. I search for vastly different items than they do. I spent a few minutes testing the tool and the only +1 I came across was from Robert Scoble. And I’ve never even met the guy!

I also find a flaw in the fact that once I click on a site and browse around, then determine it’s click-worthy, I have to go back to the search results to click the button. Sure, Google wants websites to add a +1 on their sites, but I think this is just one more thing for a company to manage. They already have to encourage visitors and customers to Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, review them on Yelp, give them their email for coupons … how much more can a company possibly ask a customer to do?

Google +1

Another features that chaps my hide is that Google can and will use your +1 click on ads. So if I click that I like the People Puppy Chow Dog Food link, when this dog food company places a Google Ad, it can use my +1 to endorse its products. I may have never tried the products. Maybe I just like cute puppies. I know Facebook does this too, and I’m not a fan. Where’s our percent of ad sales?

My Prediction

I may be wrong, and feel free to argue with me (I’m counting on you to), but I suspect a few people will use the +1 for a while until they grow tired of it, then it’ll get tossed in Google’s Fail pile. Google’s got such innovative products, it’s a shame that they do so poorly in the social division. WordStream agrees, as I’m sure do many others.

What do you think? Are you using Google’s +1 button? What benefit do you get from it? Will it survive?


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

18 Reactions
  1. Carmen Sognonvi

    “I also find a flaw in the fact that once I click on a site and browse around, then determine it’s click-worthy, I have to go back to the search results to click the button.”

    I never thought about that before but you’re so right! Wonder how many people would actually take the time to do that.

  2. I’m just completely overwhelmed by social bookmarks, likes, +1s and everything else. And I’m tired of asking people to click them for me if they like my stuff. If someone likes my blog, my facebook page, a status, or a post at this point, it’s because they were genuinely moved to make the extra click. Which, I do believe, is how all of these things were supposed to be used until scammers and marketers tried to “optimize” them for specific clients or sites.

  3. I think you’re missing 2 big factors in your negative assessment. First, +1 is being launched in conjunction with Google+. Without Google+, +1 would not mean anything. But as Google takes its first real steps towards a fully integrated social network, the +1 button will serve just like the Like button for Facebook, with the added benefit of search results curation.

    Second, Google could “force” the adoption of the +1 button by using it to control search rankings. Search engine rankings will continue to get more specific, localized, and integrated with social networks. If even a piece of Google’s algorithm was changed to include +1’s, it would make adoption of the company by website owners almost mandatory.

  4. “Sure, Google wants websites to add a +1 on their sites, but I think this is just one more thing for a company to manage.”

    If you want to rank well on the most used search engine on the planet you’ll do everything in your power optimize your site. Adding the button is completely trivial, Google gives you the Javascript code snippet you need and directs you where to place it, an interesting read though.

  5. @Carmen–We shall see!

    @Zach–Fair enough. But since Google+ is still in beta, +1 doesn’t mean much on its own, in my humble opinion. And I HOPE you’re wrong about Google forcing adoption. That would be horrible!

  6. I think this is much ado about nothing for internet marketers (right now) because +1 is just one more button next to many others and it isn’t really hasn’t been around long enough to see general adoption. For now I’m in wait and see mode before I start to sweat it too much.

    Also, I’ve heard that Google+ will be in full rollout by August 1, so the interplay could be big.

  7. LOL “Another Irritating Social Web Button”. I am glad to see that someone else thinks the +1 is irritating and should go away.

  8. @Robert–We’ll see what happens when they play together.

    @Jon–I thought more people would disagree with me!

  9. I’m pretty sure that Google will localize spammy +1’s as they’ve been trying with link farms and content farms in order to control the quality of search results and penalize them.

    The real fact is that the +1 button in search results will affect only your connected friends’ SERPs if they’re signed in. The +1 button in Google+ is being used a different way on the Stream.

  10. Susan, you have a valid point but I think there is much more to +1 that just a like button. Google will not make mistakes again and again. We should wait for next few months to see how it goes.

    If +1 fails then Google should better focus on its Search Engine only 🙂

  11. I think that the Google+ share function is maybe one of the most open and transparent share buttons. Give it time, I think it will grow and I am +1-ing everything. But I cannot this article 🙂

  12. Martin Lindeskog

    Susan: I got the 1+ button automatically included on y EGO blog due to the fact that it is powered by Blogger (Google company). You guest post has got a 1+ vote! 🙂

    I agree with Zach Heller that the feature will be incorporated in the Google+ tool and it could have a positive effect on future search engine results. We have to wait and see… 😉

  13. “First, +1 is being launched in conjunction with Google+. Without Google+, +1 would not mean anything.”

    The weird thing is I can’t find any sort of integration of the +1 button with my Google+ profile at least for now. At least with FB Like or Share it shows up in my FB stream.

  14. I just noticed a “+1” and “Buzz” tabs on my Google+ profile, so partially never mind my earlier post but it’s still not the most obvious way to share content if it doesn’t show up in the central/main page.

  15. I´m sure Google knows what people like and don´t like. They should have a really nice plan going on, and Google plus is different from others social networks.

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