Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Google +1 Button - long overdue

Google announced the Google + 1 Button on their blog, today, which I think will likely have a positive impact on SEO.

Users of the first Google Toolbar will possibly remember the like and dislike voting buttons on it. They were available beside the PageRank Meter but you had to enable them manually. (I don't have a screenshot). I used to like them but they were quickly disabled as they were too open to abuse. But Google has returned, Facebook-esque, with the Google +1 Button. I think this is brilliant and much overdue.

A lot will be made of it being a Facebook copy-cat but that's overrated. Much of Facebook isn't original and Google has tried this in the past. It's also not social networking - Google is an aggregator of data and their star rating system, like/dislike voting buttons and PageRank systems are relative dinosaurs compared to Facebook and the like button.

Here's why I think its so important and where it will have some positive effects for SEO.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Users liking sites brings back appreciation for design, UI and UX. If design is really bad and the User Experience is awful, this will could have a negative effect on a website. Of course, design is impossible for search engines to take into account and its pretty hard for humans given its subjective nature.

This to me is great news for people who value strong design and user experiences and is a big shot in the arm for web designers. But it's how the design affects you, not how you feel about the design (note for site owners) - and so "graphics-free" sites like Craigslist will probably garner many likes.

Up until now, design and UIX was taken into account by indirectly valuing the CTR and link back stats that Google collects.

Can the spam
A massive benefit could be reduced spam counts. Rubbish and empty blogs, posts, press releases, content farms and other spam mass generated by ruthless and shameful blackhat-SEO companies and their careless clients should be hit again by giving a direct vote to users

Bringing Balance to the Force
By giving users a vote on pages - it essentially starts to move to balance out the guesswork by the algorithm. For example, if users keep picking the first few sites that rank but they get less likes than other sites - it makes sense for Google to shake up the mix a bit.

Its unlikely that this will be a heavy weight factor at the start. Because internet representation is still anonymous (and Privacy Campaigners keen to see it that way), the system is open to some abuse, so some form of balance of power to limit it.


  1. David,

    In theory this might sound like a good idea, but isn't it just going to lead to more gaming of the system. No doubt there are already people selling 1000 +1 Button likes for a tenner.

    Google should maybe concentrate on 'search' and improving search result quality, rather than being all things to all men and jumping on every bandwagon.

  2. Interesting post, look forward to seeing how this rolls out and how it gets used in time.

    Like your comment regarding design, good SEO can increase rankings but if people are arriving at a badly designed site then this can put people off.

    The +1 button adds an element of social and human feedback into the SEO mix, which is good for the design/web industry overall.

  3. @Michael_Wall Because it's done within your network, I don't think it's open for gaming. The effects won't be "anonymous" and that means that people outside it won't be able to influence your search.

    I don't think Google should avoid Social - I think they can be very good at it. They need to stop being Engineers and let people be people

    @Gareth Thanks Gareth - glad you enjoyed it and I do agree with you - it brings back a human touch.

  4. I think it will have a positive impact, too.

    We won't really know for certain until we see it in practice for a while though, so let's wait and see what happens!

  5. Personally I think a -1 button would do more to evaluate design choices