The first time I read the Google announcement about +1 I thought “what an awesome April Fool’s joke.”
Sure, Google was a little early this year with their April Fool’s joke. But it’s a big one so let’s everyone do please play along. And it’s not unlike industry insiders to help Google pile on one big industry “ha-ha.”
And then I started clicking on stuff and thought “Oh crap, this is for real.” Sure enough … before I knew it I had completed my first +1 for BBC World News and there it was, gleaming on the newly redesigned tab of my public Google profile for all to see. (Oh. Sorry about that. You can’t see my +1 without being in my Google social network. Oh, wait. Google doesn’t have a social network … at least not yet.)
Q. So is Google’s +1 feature likely to be a SEO industry game changer?
A. IMO. No. Google +1 is going to suffer the fate of Google Wave and has the potential to receive Google Buzz class-actionable privacy attention when it expands beyond US results.
A. Because search is not a social activity. Search is a tool. Search is more utilitarian than a social event, and Google +1 is acting more like a social bookmarking tool than anything else right now. There is a difference between creating a social bookmark in a “seal of approval” or “thumbs-up” manner. A social bookmark denotes “oh yes, I’d like to come back to this time and time again. And I’d like for my friends to be able to come back to my collection of awesome bookmarks, too.” A social bookmark action says “this is cool, but I’m moving on,” not “I endorse this content and you should, too.”
Frankly, I doubt if my Google contacts care about what I think because like most people it’s a complete hodgepodge of personal and professional contacts. For Google +1 a contact is a friend and I don’t know that that is always the case. Do I want one of my clients to see that I +1d a rival site? I don’t think so. But they could if they are in my contacts. I don’t think I want to have to think that much about what I +1 or what I don’t +1. I do think I might need a new circle of more interesting friends and that I might have to delete my more taciturn contacts. I also think we need a -1 service so I can really share how I feel with my friends and family.
Right now, 1+ is only available on the first result in Google’s US web search. I find it strange that I can only add the first result but not -1 other results as I see fit. Perhaps I have to wait for someone in my circle of Google friends produce some content that could be considered relevant to my search query? If +1 gains traction, however, marketers will begin working to game the system just like Facebook likes. (And they probably are working to start gaming Google right now.) Google almost appears to be encouraging that kind of behavior. But Google isn’t dumb, so it begs the question, why bother?
IMO: Google +1s are an organic curiosity that should not have an immediate effect on influencing the relevancy in Google search results. For now, +1s are just the newest signals added to the white noise that is the amalgamation of Google search results.