Google +1 – Why?!?

Why can’t Google just stick to search? I would rather see Google invest their massive funds and brainpower making search better and better rather than trying to integrate social media into its results. With the announcement this week of its new +1 feature, Google is once again wading into the search and social waters.

What is +1 and how will it work? Essentially, +1 will function a lot like the “Like” feature on Facebook and external web sites that include Facebook’s “Like” buttons. The feature is being slowly rolled out, but eventually, we will all start seeing +1 impact our search results. Mashable has a great write up on how the feature will work:

“Google defines this action as a “public stamp of approval,” and it is exactly that. When you +1 something, your name becomes associated with that link “in search, on ads, and across the web,” according to the company. It also shows up in a feed on your Google Profile, which is required to use the product.”

You can read the full story at Mashable.

Google seems to really be trying to become a social hub and not just a search destination. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want my search results junked up with sites people in my network “like”. I spend a lot of time online and search is a big part of what I do every day. Having to wade through this type of stuff will not improve my search experience. To use the service, you’ll need to have a Google account, be logged in and if you want to start adding your +1 endorsements to sites, you will need to complete your public Google Profile. So, there are some barriers to this becoming the de facto state of search. I have a Google account, but I do not have a Google Profile and I generally do not perform the majority of searches while logged in to Google.

Maybe I’m a little old fashioned, but I like my search to be search and my social media to be social. I wonder if we will start seeing less relevant results in search as marketers figure out ways to game this system by incentivizing +1 activity. Google has already been including more and more social content in its results sets – read more here.

Doing the amount of search I do for clients when working on competitive intelligence and SEO, I am very aware of what the results include. Sadly, the quality of results returned for the average search has not improved in the past 2 years. In fact, in many cases, the results returned on the first page of Google are pretty crappy. It has gotten a little better since their most recent two algorithm updates, but the nature of what you see on the first page for a lot of search terms is markedly different from the landscape of even 18 months ago. Is this a good or bad thing? Who knows. It is what it is and we’ll all be working to do our best for clients with whatever the current landscape and technology requires!

It certainly has implications for not only SEO strategy, but also for your social media and reputation management strategies.

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