Google +1: Cool feature… but will it succeed?

I recently saw a blog post The Guardian about Google +1. An interesting concept in which Google users can “tag” a search result in a way that lets people know that you have found a particular link to be relevant.

So if I “+1” something and someone who knows me is searching on Google, they would see that “Drew has +1’d this” and might find it useful to them in terms of narrowing down their search. It’s a very Web 2.0 way of categorizing content and has the potential to change search forever by adding a folksonomy to pretty much every search result on the Web.

In the video that Google has published on YouTube “Introducing the +1 Button” and on the Google +1 Website, this feature is positioned as “Recommendations when you want them” and shows how, if you have a Google Profile setup, this could eventually be used to add your “+1” to videos, blog postings, photos or just about anything on the Web.

With Google’s utter dominance of search, it would be great to see what my friends and contacts recommend when I’m performing a search.

As the Guardian suggests with the title of the post, this feature does seem to be a replica of the “Like” button on Facebook, and who would blame Google (or anyone for that matter) for wanting to replicate the success of this tiny little feature that I believe has driven much of Facebook’s success.

Though I can see similarities to the “Like” button, I think that “+1” has the potential to be very successful. But I would challenge Google to consider its development from a number of perspectives. I’m sure that there are more than enough talented people at Google to have thought of these points, but for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts:

  1. How will this integrate with my mobile device and the very cool voice search capabilities of the Google mobile app? I am already in love with this service, especially since I like to listen to music when I’m travelling around on public transportation, which happens to be where I am the majority of times that I need to search for something on my phone. More and more, I’m loving the idea of not having to take the phone out of my pocket, but rather to be able to give commands to my phone using the microphone.
  2. What value is there in having a Google Profile other than to be able to access this service? I’ve had a Google Profile for at least a year now and, apart from logging in to update my contact information, I can’t see how it’s benefitted me in any way whatsoever. Facebook’s “like” button adds value to my life as there are several ways that people’s “likes” integrate easily into my daily routine and Facebook is definitely an application that I would allow to push notifications (someone’s uploaded a photo of me, or someone has commented on something I’ve done, etc) whereas I don’t have much of a need for Google to push anything to me. I go to Google when I need to know something.
  3. The name “+1”, though clever, doesn’t quite sound or feel as universally useful as the “like” and therefore as a concept might escape the average web user.
  4. As the Digital Buzz blog suggests in their post about “Google +1”, what will its impact be on existing search algorithms and those that have developed the craft of optimising their Search Engine Marketing or SEO campaigns to reach into new or existing markets?

This is just one of Google’s many innovations and we all know that some have been more successful than others. I applaud Google for this thinking. It’s very cool and I do hope that it will change the way we search for (and promote) information in the future.

I also look forward to the many creative ways in which the innovators of the world will take advantage of this new feature, but I do think that it will all hinge on whether people see any value in having a Google profile. Perhaps there’s another way to integrate it into the average Web user’s daily routine?

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