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Google +1: What normal person would ever use it?

March 31, 2011 22 Comments

Google has launched +1 - a sort of facebook like button for its search results. If you see a result you like, you can hit the +1 button and then Google will reflect that information back in its search results in various ways.

+1 logoMaybe I'm being stupid but can someone explain when a normal person would ever do this in the course of their usual web browsing / searching activity?

  • You run a search. You click a result. It's not what you wanted so you go back. Well, you're not going to +1 it are you?
  • You run a search. You click a result. It's interesting and what you wanted. You go and do something else. No +1ing has occurred.

Maybe it's like this:

  • You run a search. You click a result. You read a few pages. Out of gratitude you remember to hit the back button or re-run the search and then click the +1 button next to the result.

Who is going to do that? Having a +1 feature on a website I can see - although it's yet another button for the page. Having +1 in the search results? Don't get it.

Update Paul Lomax and Joe Crowther suggested on Twitter that if you open pages from the results in tabs that you would then still have access to the results to use +1.

Update 2: There's a Google group with suggestions for integrating the button into the browser.

Maybe you could +1 this when you've liked it, tweeted it, buzzed it, Digged it, submitted it to Reddit, Stumbled it ....

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  • Ian Goodall says:

    Agreed. Unless someone intends on +1 -ing the content they think is brilliant, I can't see it becoming part of routine usage of a search engine. I don't want to go back to Google if I've found what I want. Maybe a -1 would be better, in the event I'm forced to return to Google because the content is not good enough.

  • Andy Nattan says:

    It makes no sense from a user point of view either. Why do I want my results tainted by what my friends want?

    For example, all my friends like Chocolate ice cream. I like Rum and Raisin. When I search for "Ice Cream", do I want dozens of +1'd results for "Bob's Chocolate Ice Cream Emporium"?

    Makes no sense beyond "Facebook have done it, therefore we must do it!"

    • Mark Pack says:

      Andy - though I'm sceptical of the feature like you, I think your example works the other way. Say I'm searching for a coffee place in central London. Having results come up with friends of mine have +1'd would be a good thing - as it's a form of mini-review endorsement.

  • Must admit, I'm with you on this one - although, the likelihood is that you'll also be able to put a '+1' button on your website, a bit like the 'Tweet this' or 'like' buttons.

    If Google implement this then I can see some use, as it kind of adds a social recommendations layer to search engine rankings calculations (although how they'll monitor it to make sure people aren't cheating - making lots of accounts to +1 their own content, etc - I'm not sure).

  • SERPD says:

    Google +1: What normal person would ever use it? » Malcolm Coles...

    This one hits the nail on the head. Hopefully all the +1 fever will have abated by the time all you US SERPd users are out of bed, but if not you need to read this....

  • That's the exact point that Alex Rainert (Foursquare exec) made: - even after they've launched the on-site buttons in a few MONTHS(!!) that I suspect will replace Buzz buttons, I don't see why people (other than us marketers of course) would invest time to +1 something. My thoughts are on my blog here:

  • Andy says:

    I can't see it being used when it's only in the search results. But it may be adopted more when it is on page like all the other social media buttons.

    This is all people in your Google Contacts right? I for example would like to see what Malcolm and various other professionals are +1'ing but I wouldn't be able to without their personal email address.

    Plus us people who are fairly internet savvy, knowing how to construct long tail searches, I can't see myself coming across many other pages that people have +1ed very often.

    I can see it being used for shopping and hinting to people what we want for birthday presents we want we want but even then. I think it's going to need a lot of tweaking before it has any impact and even longer before it's an effective addition to search.


  • I'd have to agree, the idea of the +1 button in search results doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the +1 button on webpages is a smart move and I for one hope fervently that this can be the start of moving away from using linking as the No.1 ranking factor in the Google algo's. I remember Matt Cutts saying that people should not be so concerned with PageRank and concentrate on good content... doesn't really fly when such a big chunk of the ranking factor is dependant upon linking.
    Hopefully this little experiment will show good results and we can all start to live without spammy comments on our blogs, Indian 'link building' (I use the phrase very loosely) companies and all the web spam which seems to clog everyone's search results. This seems to me to be moving full circle to those early days of the web, where everything was human edited / reviewed. It's the best way to do things... and yes you will still get some trying to game the system, but if enough people get involved then I can see a good future for +1.

  • There's a google group (URL in post) suggesting the functionality be added to the browser, which could work - linking the page back to the search Google knows you ran. This would also help websites that don't want to (or can't easily) implement the on-page +1 button when it comes out.

  • Chris Collingridge says:

    From a workflow perspective, a "-1" button would be better.

    - look at the results, some of them are clearly nonsense = -1
    - click on a result, turns out to be rubbish, go back to search results = -1

    Much tougher to see why anyone would motivated to +1 when they're advancing towards their goal...

  • Johnny Gedye says:

    I wonder how long before there are so many "vote this" buttons on web pages that they put users off?

    I guess it all comes down to Facebook having a pretty hefty slice of the pie and the failure that was Google Buzz.

  • Gonza says:

    The +1 button on websites will make the task easier for users, so they don't have to go back anywhere to click it.

    Also I think if google uses the +1 data to sort the search results -It will be like a "personalized pagerank"- and give more relevance to the ones that has more +1 clicks, the brands will focus on get a lot of +1's.

    When you see a Facebook Page, you also se how many likes a page has and it gives you an idea of "the more likes, the more important the page is", but you don't really know who likes that page or if those likes were bought. The most relevant/important information you should look on a Facebook page is how many likes the page has from your friends, that gives you an idea of how much you will also like that page. That's where I think Google is focusing, on how many people you know liked a page.

    And the difference is that most people has a lot of "friends" on Facebook that they really don't know, but the people you have on Google Contacts is people you communicate with on Gmail, Google Talk, etc.

  • Would be good to see them integrate the +1 as chromes bookmarking button to give the user something for pressing it. Or something along those lines as I agree that having a "good dead" button that only really increases the websites search ability seems a bit pointless for the everyday user...

    And having on site is just going to lead to a whole load of ugly adverts..

    "+1 our page for more content"


  • Asher says:

    I agree with what is being said here. Makes no sense to the average user, BUT some people might like it and click it.. If you don't want it, don't log into your gmail.

  • Gerry White says:

    A minus one for spammy PPC would be better ... I am looking at you dodgy 0898 information lines for passports etc...

  • [...] Google +1: What normal person would ever use it? [...]

  • Andy says:

    +1 or -1 will just get abused much in the way that Facebook is now getting abused.

    Please like my site ;)

  • [...] Coles from the blog bearing his own name as the URL is worried. He thinks what normal person would ever use the Google +1 button to rank search results while searching for something [...]

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