The ‘Minus’ of Google Plus One

This is a guest post by Greg Buckskin. If you wish to write one, kindly check out our guidelines to write a guest post.

Minus of Google Plus One

In March 2011, Google unveiled its +1 button. The button originally only appeared in a Google results page and only to users who turned the Google plus one feature on. But now it is rolling out across the web as an embeddable button that anyone can put on their own website and most of the webmasters have activated Google plus one button on their websites. Soon you should start to see Google’s +1 button next to the ubiquitous Facebook Like button, Tweet This button, (Buzz button? lol.), and others, if you haven’t already.

So how is +1-ing a page different than Liking a page?

Just as Facebook is trying to make the web more social by connecting you and your friends on sites outside of Facebook, Google is trying to make their search results more relevant and useful—not to mention more personal, IF you turn on Google’s social features. Google plus one also helps in SEO of Blogs and websites. When you click a +1 button on a website or blog, Google will track your endorsement of that site and display the total number of +1’s a site receives in the search results. If you’ve turned on Google social features, you’ll also see friends of yours who have liked a site you may be searching for (providing they have the same social features turned on too).

In concept, this is a fantastic idea—personalize web searches for better usefulness and let people “vote” on which sites they like the best. It’s like Google is crowdsourcing their search algorithm to users. No doubt, seeing a large number of +1’s next to a search result will make it look more attractive to click on. We tend to trust our friend’s opinions online. But the big question has always been and still remains, will people use it?

Will Bloggers Embrace +1

To start, there is a huge barrier of entry to even use the button. In order to click the +1 button or see +1 numbers in your search results, you have to start sharing your social media accounts with Google by creating a public profile. For techies and social media hipsters, that’s no problem. But for average Joe Websearcher? Maybe not.

Also, the button assumes that I want personalized web results and that I trust (and care about) what sites my friends have +1’ed (don’t get me started on the lack of a good verb to go along with +1). I don’t know about you, but most of the time my friends simply click on the first search result that comes up without even looking at the others results further down the page that might be more relevant.

Technologically-deficient Stacy from accounting will probably end up just +1ing the first result in every search and in turn giving me the false notion that it is actually an important site.

An even bigger part of the problem is that most people (me included) don’t even know they can connect their accounts to Google. And if they’ve already created Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts, they might see this as another social media hoop to jump through and won’t do it. Although Google’s +1 button has the potential to be much more useful than the Like button, for overall web searching, too many people are already at their “public profile” limit and don’t feel like sharing their personal info with yet another platform for the world to see. And that may be the biggest hurdle Google will face in spreading the +1 button across the internet.

But probably the biggest annoyance of the +1 button is the fact that it is extremely problematic for websites– and is probably making webmasters all over the country extremely agitated. This seemingly innocent button messes with JavaScript and alters the appearance of some symbols and letters on websites. It also reportedly makes web pages load slower, along with several other little online hitch-ups that no one wants to deal with.

Overall, the +1 button is simply too complicated and too vague. It is too complicated for most average people to understand how to use the button and convincing your friends to use the service (if you care enough) so that you can actually share interests (or websites) with them would be an entirely new problem all together.

In general, Google tends to lag behind the social media pack, usually copying what other sites have done well with mediocre to poor results at best. (Google Wave, anyone?) And it looks like that may the case again here. They may simply be too late to the ball to dance, and everyone else is already tired out.

With no central hub to aggregate pages, an obscure opt in process and no tangible reason for people to get excited about it–personalized results sounds great, but not if you make me work for them–I don’t see +1 sticking around for very long.

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