Recently, Google released a new social tool that has the potential to be a Facebook “like” killer: +1.
In essence, what this does is allow a user to “vote up” search results. If you deem something worthy of what you are searching for, then you should click the +1 button (that looks like the one to your left). The idea is to aggregate all of the data and put the search results that have been +1′d the most at the top, making them the most relevant to your search query.
The only way to actually see or use this new tool is to sign up for the experiment on Google, and log in to your account. If you have a Google Profile, you can see all of your +1s and share them with your friends within your social graph – if you so choose. As you can see in the screen shot below, if you don’t have a profile, you won’t be able to see your +1 history.
The Social Circle
Down in Austin, TX, not too long ago, rumors were bouncing around that Google was releasing a new social networking platform, called “Circles.” However, within just a few hours of the whispers surfacing, Google immediately laid it to rest by denying the rumors. Nonetheless, if you were to follow the bread crumbs, you would see that Google is indeed up to something. With the denial of “Circles” came +1, not even a month later.
Why would they do this instead of moving ahead with “Circles?” Assuming that you (and your friends) have a Google Profile, and you have opted to link your other social networking accounts to it, every one of your friends within your social graph will have more relevant search results returned to them. That being said, there are various implications – both good and bad – this could have with regard to search engine optimization (SEO).
As the old adage goes, “The world is your oyster.” This holds especially true, as far as Google is concerned. Google spokespeople say that the +1 is not for boosting site rankings or marketing, but rather a way to get the best, most relevant and highest value search results – results that mean more to you, because it’s likely that you trust the opinions of the like-minded people in your social circle.
You could argue that it would be better to return results that have the most relevance to what you are specifically searching for, rather than those +1′d by people in your circle. To do this, all you have to do is to log out of your Google account. The results could end up becoming a bit biased, in that Google crawlers would crawl your friends’ +1s before crawling the rest of the web, thereby giving you a false positive.
Google issued this statement on the button:
While we’re thrilled that publishers are anxious to integrate the +1 button into their sites, we’re still working things out and aren’t quite ready for this to be publicly available just yet, so we’re disabling this in the code. Webmasters and other publishers interested in using +1 on their sites should get in touch with us here.
Once the embeddable button is activated (legitimately, this time), Facebook “likes” will have some competition, and they should be worried. With the new changes at Google, and the way employee bonuses are determined by social media success, Google’s innovation and imagination have no limits.
Google has been known to fail – and fail epically, at that – but it hasn’t stopped them. Just look at Hotpot and what they have done recently with Latitude. With Larry Page returning to the helm, he is quickly bringing Google back to its startup roots with less red tape and more innovation. Another circle, if you will.
What do you think is next for Google? Do you think that Facebook should be worried?