Unless you were not reading any technology news, you heard that Google finally announced Google +1. Google’s social networking and social features have been rumored for what seems like forever. Now we finally get to see some pieces of their grand social plan. This first piece allows you to “recommend” search results and have your social circle benefit from that (from the linked announcement):
The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).
So, first and foremost, +1 is about improving search results. However, Google has already started collecting sites that want a +1 button on their sites:
We think sharing on the web can be even better–that people might share more recommendations, more often, if they knew their advice would be used to help their friends and contacts right when they’re searching for relevant topics on Google. That’s why we’re introducing the +1 button, an easy way for Google users to recommend your content right from the search results pages (and, soon, from your site).
You can already see that Google has plans that are bigger than just search results. I have written a few posts talking about the possibilities of what was rumored as Google Me, with the idea that there was more than just recommending search results. In one post I talked about what Google Me needs to succeed and I have updated these a bit:
- Simple connection building, including autodiscovery of connections using various email and social network accounts. Some people will initially be upset by this, but every other network already does this.
- Deep integration of Google Buzz. Buzz is the FriendFeed clone that would work perfectly as the sharing technology of choice. It does more than Twitter, and it is getting easier to use. Changing Likes to +1 seems like an obvious move, and it allows Google to gather consistent data.
- Deep integration of Google Profiles. The profiles that Google have built are quite informative and extensive. They are being improved to be more like social network profiles, and there is a +1 tab if you have it enabled. Google is also requiring a profile in order to use +1, essentially forcing users to create an identity within the Google network in order to gain the benefits.
- Integration of Google Places. Inclusion of Google Places, previously known as Local Business Center, would be a huge bonus for small businesses. This would allow Google Places to be recommended in addition to having reviews. All of this competes with similar concepts within Yelp and Facebook Places.
- APIs from Orkut. Orkut may not be a popular social network, but it does have a solid set of APIs and it is based on OpenSocial. Orkut has already implemented “social circles” and could be extended to automatically include all Google profile users.
- Simple Application Platform. Steal this idea from Facebook as it is core to their success. The widgets scattered in various Google applications have not really been adopted, but Facebook hit a home run with their platform. Google could make a push with App Engine as it grows in popularity.
- Integration of Google Analytics. This only works in the context of having a +1 button on web sites themselves, similar to Facebook’s like widget and like buttons. Embracing the OpenGraph protocol and integrating metrics from the data gathered would be a benefit to website owners.
- Consistency. If you look at the various Google applications, we have stars for favoriting or bookmarking sites, likes within Google Buzz, the Social Connect widget and now +1. Make everything +1 so that you can make metrics compatible across applications and more useful to Google itself.
One thing that they do need to be careful of is forcing everything to fit into their cash cow, search. Granted, the metrics gathered from all of the Google applications could be used to improve search, but that should not be the main goal. The goal should be bigger than just search. With all of the information that Google could gather, this could be about social curation and discovery. This implementation of +1 is just the beginning, now let’s see where Google takes it.