Google's Plus One - An Uninvited Guest At An Already Boring Party?

Yawn. Google have finally shown up to the “ooh, quick, click on me so your friends all know you like me” party. Now, thanks to the magic of Google +1, you’ll be able to Tweet a link, like it on Facebook, post it to LinkedIn, Sphinn it, SERPd it, Digg it, Reddit it, Stumble it, Mixx it, bookmark it with Delicious, subscribe to the RSS feed AND email it to a friend!

Great. We’re all spoiled for choice here.

And already, the heralds of SEO doom and the dedicated Chicken Littles of the various discussion conclaves are running about claiming that plus one is going to change the way that blah blah blah who gives a toss?

I don’t. And you probably don’t either.

Because here’s a little secret for you:


Google +1 is a ridiculously pointless addition to Google’s offering

Take a look at this blog. You’ll see massively prominent Twitter and Facebook buttons. You might also see a few small buttons for niche sites like LinkedIn or StumbleUpon, but those are the big two. Why?

Because that’s where we’re all going to find news that our friends like. We look to Twitter to see what experts in our niche rate highly, and we look to Facebook to see what friends and acquaintances recommend. That’s what those two sites exist for.

But we go to Google for unbiased results.

If I’m Googling, I don’t care what you think

That’s what Google don’t seem to understand.

If I want recommendations from a friend, I will go out and ask a friend. When I’m searching, I want the results that best match that query. Which means that when I search for a pair of trainers, I don’t want to have to scroll through the sort of shoes that my friends, acquaintances, siblings or colleagues like.

And the same goes for information. If I want to quiz someone for advice on a specific topic, I’ll turn to her Twitter feed. I won’t go to Google, hoping that her recommendation ranks more highly than someone else whose opinion I value slightly less.

But then Google +1 needs people to use it in order for it to be able to ruin my search experience. And I don’t think that’s going to happen either.

Are you going to +1 this article? No. You’re not.

If you agree with what I’ve written, I know you’re going to like it on Facebook. I know you’re going to Tweet it. I also know that you’re not going to Mixx it, Stumble it or submit it to Digg. How do I know this?

Because all of these options have been available to you since the blog started, and none of you have bothered. Because it takes effort to vote on something you like, and if you’ve gone to that effort, you want it to count.

When you Tweet or Facebook one of my posts, it’s shown to your friends and anyone monitoring your feeds. They see it instantly, and they start to see you as someone who spots interesting blog posts, and they trust you more.

When you plus one it, you sit around for weeks waiting for someone to Google “Andrew Nattan thinks that Google +1 is a giant waste of time, space and energy” and then hope they notice that you’ve upvoted it. No trust is gained, and you’re not sure that anyone will even know you recommended this piece.

So what should Google be doing then, if not messing around with adulterated search?

Remember the dark days before Google? The time of Lycos and Alta Vista? Those were bad days, because any decent results were surrounded by crap. Google meant we didn’t have to sift through crap.

Google should be staying true to their original offering. Great, trustworthy, high quality search engine results.

So why on earth are they devoting so much time to artificially adding crap for us to sift through?

If you’ve got the answer, or you think I’m wrong about +1, let me know in the comments section below.

27 Comments comments for "Google’s Plus One – An Uninvited Guest At An Already Boring Party?"

  1. James says:

    Great posting – like a breathe of fresh air..!

  2. Mark says:

    chortle. spot on batman

  3. Rowena says:

    Get Google+1, so we can +1 this.

  4. buenosam says:

    Absolutely true. I think most people instinctively felt that Google +1 wasn’t going to work, and this is a great analysis of why.

    Though, interestingly, there is no standard Google any more. It has ceased to be neutral. http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

    (all good, but the Google stuff starts 2 mins in)

  5. Briony says:

    I agree that I think it would be frustrating to have the results biased towards the preferences of your peers. For some searches and for some users, perhaps it will be beneficial, but I think I prefer having unadulterated SERPs and judge the quality myself. Saying all that, I don’t think Google +1 will take off enough to actually have a sizeable pissing-off effect.

  6. Janna Ostoya says:

    ‘Google should be staying true to their original offering. Great, trustworthy, high quality search engine results.’

    But, Google doesn’t offer that anymore, hasn’t offered that for some time now. It gives me different results than it gives you, based on some twisted notion that because we belong to different demographics, we can’t *possibly* be interested in the same things.

    +1 is only the latest step in Google’s sad march toward mediocrity.

    • Andrew says:

      You’re right there Janna. It’s cringeworthy the amount of cack I see in a logged in Google Search. It’s chock full of “this is what’s in your RSS feed” and “This is on your friends list” and the like. Why? I want to find new things, not just see what I’ve already read via RSS!

  7. Vipul says:

    You should have a look at ‘filter bubbles’ to see just how far Google is from being trustworthy – http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

  8. Tad Chef says:

    Some good points here Andrew but I definitely won’t Mixx this article. Mixx has been discontinued months ago πŸ˜‰ On the other hand I would +1 it in case there would be a button to do so. Why? Posting a tweet requires more than one action on more than one site. Liking on Facebook is also not an option here as otherwise I would have to like 20 other Google+1 articles I read today. I don’t want to spam my select few industry friends. So there are good use cases for +1.
    Btw. Sphinn doesn’t support submissions either in 2011.

  9. Chris Burns says:

    Thanks for linking to my SERPd submission about the same topic. I really feel like those in the industry are going to generally have the same reaction you are exposing.

    It’s those (many) not as informed people that will jump on the Google product bandwagon and implement it on their site. Then those of us in the industry that want to actually test with it.

    In the end I don’t there there is a way you can see +1 gaining more usage than Twitter or Facebook. Unless they change it to be more useful than it is today, there is no way it can add enough new value in it’s current state for long term traction.

    • Andrew says:

      “It’s those (many) not as informed people that will jump on the Google product bandwagon and implement it on their site.”

      Tad will be delighted

  10. Bel says:

    I hadn’t heard of google+1 before reading this. Can’t see it anywhere on the google homepage, either, so how do people get to know about it (I mean those who aren’t subscribed to your blog)? Maybe it’s just another one of google’s ‘still-born’ brain children, like buzz.

    • Andrew says:

      At the minute, only the Google fanboys know about it, but it’ll start creeping in more and more over the next few weeks and months. You’ll see it soon enough.

  11. Hannah says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. The fact you have to be logged in is just silly. If you could +1 listings and see how many people in total had done the same, that would be cool. Although obviously that would be open to lots of abuse.

    Likes and Tweets are where it’s at.

  12. Bel says:

    Btw, after I wrote my previous comment I noticed that it is implemented on my blog. :-/ I’ll have to go and look whether I can remove it, but since it is a blog on a google page I won’t hold my breath. Still, I’m glad I knew what it was before I actually discovered it.

    • Andrew says:

      There’s no benefit to removing it. Or to leaving it where it is, to be honest. Just ignore it.

  13. Adrian says:

    I’ve just +1’d you because I can πŸ˜›

    • Andrew says:

      The irony πŸ˜‰

      I added the plugin, just to see whether people will actually use it. If they do, I’ll need to admit to being wrong. And I don’t like doing that.

  14. Bel says:

    I removed it. I had to remove the buttons for Fb and Twitter, too, mind, but I always considered them being there for my own convenience anyway, and I don’t actually need them. At least they didn’t show that nobody ever used them (bar me, that is). πŸ˜‰

  15. Barrett says:

    I think google has an amazing company, and they are in an extremely unique position to innovate the web by building cool stuff. The +1 is behind the curve, but with all their data gathering maybe it well help bring more relevant search results with content other people have like or +1.

  16. Andrew says:

    Proof that it’s useless: http://trunc.it/h1meh

  17. Ed says:

    i needed a go laugh today so thanks :)

    p.s. i’m just about to add google +1 to my site – thought i’d rather that than myface or is it mybook.. no, no i got it!!

    facespace – wot a waste of electricity!

  18. Catherine says:

    The problem is that both Facebook and Google are boring unless you connect with large groups of people you don’t know. The origianl appeal of Yahoo Conversations and chat rooms is that you had the opportunity to meet and chat with complete strangers who could make you laugh and engage you in new ways of thinking.

    The interfaces are flat. If Twitter ever added a chat or group chat feature they’d kill the competition. The idea of the Internet is that people want to connect with something they haven’t seen or heard about before.

    It’s nice to connect with family from across the miles but after a while it becomes boring. The engineers who design this stuff spend all their time coding and no time socializing so they cannot imagine what it is the rest of the world would like.

    If you are going to make part of the web social, then REALLY make it social. Why do you think dating sites are so popular? People want to meet and connect with new people. It’s the reason people go to bars and nightclubs — these are social.

    The trouble is that Google and Facebook don’t know how to make real networking happen.

    Twitter is the only thing that comes close.

  19. Gary Green says:

    Google+, it’s like Facebook, but less. Great selling slogan, eh?

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