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James Perrin

Google Reveal +1 Social Layer

31st Mar 2011 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

Google announce their rival to the Facebook ‘like’ button with +1 (plus one). If you see something that you like, +1 it, it’s that simple.

The social evolution of Google continues with the announcement of +1. With social search creeping into SERPs, they have been looking for ways to expand  the influence friends have on the results we all see [See: Social Search: Google and Bing Announce Updates]; with the addition of plus one, a further (Google managed) social layer can be added to these results.

What is it?

With Google +1 you can share recommendations right from the off, with buttons featured on search pages – including AdWords adverts. If you see something that you like, you can recommend it by +1’ing a page or advert that you find useful. Once you have +1’d something, this will appear in Google’s SERPs. As a result, when someone performs a search for something, for example a restaurant, a bar, or a hotel, they can see how many have recommended it swiftly.

The recommendations are relevant too, that’s because they are made by the people who matter to you (friends and family), and are revealed at the time you want it to (when you perform a search). Sourced from Mashable, Jim Prosser, a Google representative explains, “People consult their friends and other contacts on decisions. It’s very easy and lightweight way to make search results more relevant.” As Google say, the web is a big place and we could all do with some help navigating it.

How do they do it?

Rob Spiro, Product Manager at Google, has revealed that they use signals to identify the most useful recommendations such as the people you are connected to through Google, and then they will start to incorporate other connections such as Twitter. This means that you need a Google profile to start +1’ing stuff, and you need to be logged into your Google account if you want to see your +1’s in your Google SERPs (which poses its own rather obvious issues).

To start off with, you will see +1’s appear alongside search results and adverts, however in time Google hope to incorporate the function onto websites and other Google products too. We won’t see the changes for a few months. But if you are interested in experimenting, you can at Google.com/experimental.

Unanswered Questions

Inevitably, a lot of questions are still unanswered. As Google say, they will look to integrate the +1 function with alternative Google products soon; however, how does this work with products such as Hotpot, Buzz or the rumoured Circles? Hotpot is effectively the same thing [see: Google Hotpot: Local search gets personal], so does +1’s emergence put Hotpot in the balance? Buzz certainly isn’t buzzing anymore, so has +1 put the final nail in its coffin?

With +1 you can recommend things in search and on paid adverts to start with, so does this mean it will have an effect on SEO and PPC? +1 could be awesome for advertisers, as Danny Sullivan reports, but it could also easily lend itself to spamming with paid +1’ing (as we explored last year in Facebook Like: Or, How to Spam the Socialsphere).

Clearly, we have a lot more to say on this subject, different angles will be looked at from various specialists in due course and as always we will share our thoughts along the way.

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