Newsletter May 2011
New Google service seeks to be 'liked'

There is currently a lot of buzz around Google +1, the latest unveiling from the online giant which allows users to publicly rate favourable search results and adverts with a "+1? , eventually leading to personalised search results and tailored advertising each time you use the search engine.

This feature sits nicely with the 'socialisation' of the web and further marks the steady shift from wisdom of crowds to wisdom of friends in the way we consume online information. The idea is that each time you do a search on Google when logged in, any results that you or anyone in your network has '+1'd' will be enhanced. These +1's are stored in a new tab on your Google profile which you can share with the world or keep private and personally use it to manage your web experience.

Google +1 is not yet available to everyone but already the company is planning to extend its reach to websites. Business owners with an online presence will soon be able to add +1 buttons to their website that will allow users to endorse and share web pages or articles in the same way as the Facebook Like or Tweet buttons.

While critics argue that Google +1 is yet another underhand attempt by Google to become more social, web builders are quietly rejoicing over the possible positive effect this might have on search engine optimisation (SEO). The +1 button comes with Google Analytics type feature that automatically graphs a website's data once enough people have clicked its +1 button. The analytics record demographic information such as age, gender and location useful to advertisers and can even pick up +1 data from Google search pages. This has the potential of opening up search engine rankings to smaller players who through consumer rating can gain a stronger presence on the world's largest search engine.

One slight disadvantage of Google +1 is that to fully benefit from the feature users will need to have a Google Profile and a Google-based social network made up of Google Talk friends, Gmail contacts, and people you follow in Google Reader and Google Buzz. It is yet unclear when the +1 feature will roll out to other parts of the world outside the US, but one thing that's clear is that until this feature is able to connect with the more established social media services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr (the last two are apparently on the horizon), Google may well find itself very low on user take up with no +1's beside its own name.


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