Google Launches +1 Like Feature

If you’re familiar with Facebook you will probably know about their “Like” button for recommending photographs and comment posts. Google has now launched a similar feature; +1. +1 is a recommendation vote for websites and ads served up in Google’s search results and will be used to enhance personalized search results for those with activated Google profiles.

+1 recommendations will be used to highlight individual sites and ads which are served up to users, and will also show who is recommending them too. +1 can be used as an aggregate vote number (like Digg), so for instance, a website may have 2,000 +1 recommendations annotated to it in the ranking results. Google will also provide enhanced placement of websites with high number so +1 recommendations, especially from +1 votes from users within the searching user’s social circle. Google is collating the +1 results for those users with active Google profiles and also from features such as Gmail, Buzz and Orkut.

Some say +1 marks a new effort by Google to enter the online social networking arena, however I think this is simply a new layer of Web socialization. The +1 feature is unleashing the power of personal recommendation onto the wider Web outside of social networks, and it makes a lot of sense.

Will this result in more relevant results for users?

Yes and No.

Users are more likely to get a more interesting and engaging set of search results, tailored more closely to the likes of their contacts. If my friends like “Stargate Universe” then chances are so will I.

But is liking something enough going to make it more relevant to me?

I don’t see that connection myself and think we will start seeing search results skewed to what is popular within my social circle rather than what is most relevant to the topic I am searching on now.

At the moment, only personal users who have activated Google Profile will be able to use the +1 feature, which means that business users will not be able to use it … yet. There is an obvious issue with spamming +1 recommendations too, however Google is pretty adept at spotting spammers so I wouldn’t recommend anyone starts arranging for mass +1 recommendation spamming of their own websites unless you are asking for a ranking penalty.

Again, if you are a Facebook user, you will also be aware of some of the occasional gripes about the lack of “Dislike” button. There is nothing about Google launching a “-1” feature, which makes a lot of sense to me personally. As a user, a negative vote is just as important as a positive recommendation in helping to decide which websites I want to visit.

The +1 implication is clear. If you want that +1 recommendation (and who wouldn’t?) you are going to have to work for it. That means creating website content that provides interest and value to users, further cementing the idea that “Content is King!” If Google is using +1 recommendations within its ranking calculations, then site owners will have to pay closer attention to the content and presentation in a much stronger way than they probably are doing right now. This also means that integration of your website with a social media strategy is even more important too; to get recommended you need to generate traffic to get those rank-enhancing votes to begin with.

Shell Harris is a co-founder of, a Richmond SEO company. Big Oak owns, a blog publishing top 10 lists. Big Oak’s newest site, posts weekly information about the best websites on the web.

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