Google +1 is a social voting system that allows users of web pages to tell other web users that they ‘liked’ the content. The more people that like a page (can be a product, a blog, and general content) the more popular that page will be seen to be by others. Rumour has it that Google will be factoring +1 scores in future search engine algorithms, this means that for websites who want to rank higher, strong +1 scores will help.
What does +1 mean to the consumer?
Well, there lies the problem. Facebook is so far ahead of the game in terms of having an established network of users, all linked in various ways and who use Facebook to communicate regularly, that Google are now expecting users to create a second public profile in order to vote for pages.
For Google account holders (eg Gmail) voting with +1 is straightforward, you are prompted to sign in to your account and your vote is cast. For anyone else not using Google tools already, is +1 enough of an incentive to create a Google account? Where is the benefit to the consumer?
+1 is clearly Googles attempt to compete directly with Facebook within social voting and they clearly have the edge in terms of usage of their search engine compared to users of Facebook, but in order for Google to get the full benefit of the +1 method they require users to create public profiles. Well Facebook users already have profiles.
Why would someone want to create a second profile?
Google are advertising +1 as being more secure, each user maintains ownership of their own content which can be completely withdrawn at anytime and that it’s more logical in terms of creating groups of contacts, all having different relationships. With Facebook there are limited ways to distinguish between groups of friends, Google states it has come up with a more logical solution to this.
This is all well and good but Facebook is so well established and continues to grow, why would a user need a second profile? Would a user choose +1 over Facebook? Well Google hope so, and with Google anything is possible, but they certainly have a long way to go.
What does +1 mean to website owners?
The prospect of SEO influence is massive, starting a +1 program on your website straight away will ensure you are collecting votes for when the algorithm changes. Just because it’s hard to see the profile side of +1 over-taking Facebook at this stage, remember the user can +1 a page without a public profile, so you can still get votes from users who do have Google tools accounts.
Integrating +1 is very straight-forward with the number of votes displaying on the page, generally alongside the Like and Tweet buttons and counters.
Not including +1 will undoubtedly make websites look out-dated soon and you never know where this one may lead.
Ascensor are a Website Design, Ecommerce and Digital Agency Leeds and London