Is Google’s New Social Service a +1?

Google launched +1 today, basically its answer to Facebook’s Like button. When you click on a “+1” icon displayed on a URL, it shows up in Google search results when you are signed in. And if you have social connections within the Google empire (e.g., Gmail contacts) you will see which of your connections has +1’d the URL. While I am digesting the possibilities I thought it might be helpful to summarize some initial reads on the +1:

Meet +1: Google’s Answer To The Facebook Like Button – Danny Sullivan

Google did say that if someone does a +1 on a web page, then that will show up to others who find that page in search results. That’s going to be a huge bribe, in my view, for getting wide adoption of these buttons on web sites.

Now Google Social Search will gain +1 recommendations, content that people are explicitly recommending using Google’s +1 buttons. Google Social Search remains, but in addition to the first two items below, it now gains a third feature:

Show content created by those in your social network
Show content shared by those in your social network
Show content recommended by those in your Google +1 network
Social search signals, including the new +1 recommendations, will also continue to influence the first two things below plus power the new, third option:

Influence the ranking of results, causing you to see things others might not, based on your social connections
Influence the look of results, showing names of those in your social network who created, shared or now recommend a link
Influence the look of results, showing an aggregate number of +1s from all people, not just your social network, for some links

What’s +1 mean for Facebook? A very good chance that Facebook’s seeming monopoly on how people “like” pages will be over.

Google’s Answer to Facebook Likes: +1 – Om Malik

For the longest time, Google has resisted the idea of human interference in its flagship offering: search (and advertising.) Lately, thanks to the fast growing volume of information and rising importance of social validation, the search giant is changing its tune and is reluctantly embracing humans.

Google’s +1 A Potential Boon To Paid Search Marketers – Greg Sterling

According to Christian Oestlien, Google’s Group Product Manager for Ads, +1 will appear on all Google search ads by default.

And if advertisers use organic URLs in their ads that have already been +1’d, they also will show up in the ads. And according to Greg:

Pluses will be counted as one of the signals that Google eventually uses to determine organic rankings.

Sure, I Could Join a Google-Based Social Network, but Why? – Mathew Ingram

everything the company does is still seen through the lens of search, which is why it has so much trouble understanding how social features work (see Buzz) and sees social as something that can be “bolted on” to its existing services.

On one hand I am concerned that the propagation of +1s onto the SERPs is going to clutter the results display, making it potentially more confusing. On the other hand, I see the benefit of getting recommended results in the SERPs as long as they are not gamed…too much.

More thoughts to come after we’ve seen some +1’s out in the wild.

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