Will Google +1 Web Page Buttons also be Share Buttons?

An announcement on the Official Google Blog yesterday, +1’s: the right recommendations right when you want them—in your search results, described a new social element that you can add to Google Search results. You can share recommendations about sites that you see when you search in Google by clicking upon a little box with a “+1″ inside of it that appears next to each result. The Google blog post tells us that this voting system will soon be available to people who have Google Profiles and who are logged into their Google Accounts. If you want to see it in action before that, you need to go to the Google Experimental Search pages and sign up to participate in this “experiment.”

A video about Google +1 is interesting for a couple of reasons. One of them is that it explains how Google +1 works, and another is that it mentions that this kind of voting might be available outside of Google search results on other websites sometime soon in the future:

The video shows +1 buttons on other websites, and tells us that we may be able to click a +1 button on those pages. When you click on a plus button, a mention of that will appear in a +1 tab on your Google profile, and people that you are “connected to” can see whether you’ve plussed something. Will the +1 button look like the +1 button when it appears on Web pages? Will Google add more features?

I ask because a new patent application published today from Google describes a Google Share Button that the search engine might offer to enable visitors to share pages with others via their own chosen methods of sharing.

A screenshot of a web page with a share button on it, clicked to show a choice of sharing by email or through a social networking site.

You’ve probably seen many different share buttons on sites across the Web. One of the things that makes this share button different is that instead of being configured by the owner of the site, the person using the share button can set it up so that it only provides choices that they select. So, if you decide to use this share button, you can set it up so that your choices of sharing are through Gmail, Twitter, Delicious, or add it to your calendar, for example.

The patent application is:

Dynamic Action Links for Web Content Sharing
Invented by George van den Driessche
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20110078232
Published March 31, 2011
Filed: September 30, 2009

Abstract

Action links for a web document may be dynamically generated by a third party. In one implementation, a method may include receiving a request from a client device relating to a document being processed by the client device, the request including a request for content in which the content defines action links that are to be inserted into the document. Action links may be determined for the document based on preferences of a user and content may be generated that describes the determined action links.

Will Google’s +1 button on websites function exactly like the button they announced yesterday, or will it include additional features, like the ability to share pages in other ways as well?

I guess we need to wait to find out.

Added 4:52 Maybe we already have. See OMG Someone Just Found An Embeddable Google +1 Button – And It Works!. That embeddable +1 button does look just like the one in search results, without any sharing features.

Maybe Google will also offer a share button as well. Considering the number of blogs they have at blogspot, and many recent upgrades to Blogger, a feature like that which people could include on their blogs might not be a bad idea.

added 5:43 It looks like Google has disabled the embeddable +1 button found in the wild. They do have a page where you can sign up to be informed of when the +1 button will be available for websites.

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49 thoughts on “Will Google +1 Web Page Buttons also be Share Buttons?”

  1. Hey Bill

    Great post as always.

    I’m sure Google is looking at adding additional functionality but I’m undecided about whether this will actually take off in the first place. Google’s previously introduced similiar (although less social) functionality to the SERPs and the various additions/experiments haven’t really taken off. Obviously things are a little different this time, partly due to the similarity to Facebook’s Like, but I think some of the comparisons with Facebook are a bit spurious and superficial.

    Facebook is a very personal channel, and the whole concept of ‘Liking’ something is wrapped-up in the idea of sharing within (and to) an established and close network of very close personal contacts. Facebook has also permeated the public consciousness in a semantically distinct way to Google; Google hasn’t yet managed to achieve the same kind of ‘social’ status or awareness and I don’t know if this will have the same impact.

    I also don’t like the name.

    Also, on a final note, what do you make of Google’s recently announced BushView project, to map the Australian rainforest using endangered Tree Kangaroos? ;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9IANcmmQB8

    Keep up the good work

  2. As webmasters, we will now need to +1 build or risk losing our bread and butter. Very clever on Google’s behalf – lesson learned from Buzz and Wave.

  3. I never really understood the meaning of Like, thumbs up or down and now plus/minus buttons.
    I thought the world is not black and white but there many shades of grey between these two colors, yet this is exactly what black and white buttons trying to convey.
    Users usually read more than one article on a specific topic. Assuming they like or plus it, then read another article and like or plus it, which one of these two is actually more relevant in comparison?
    That would save others a lot of time.

  4. Seems like google is gearing up to take up the challenge on Facebook. But anyway, i have never used the Facebook likes, and not do most of the people. They all use facebook to become more social, and liking a page doesnt much do the trick. I dont think they shall take away the star bookmarks. And since google have more users than facebook, lets see what happens.

  5. Hi AnHatMan

    Wow, google is becoming more like youtube and facebook every day

    They are adding a lot of different elements to almost everything they offer that makes each a little more social. I’m not sure that they need to launch a full grown social network as much as we get the chance to see them build one brick by brick.

  6. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the Bushview video – very nicely done. :)

    I think it’s part of Google’s philosophy over the past few years – throw things out there, and if they succeed, great. If they fail, they should fail quickly so that Google can move on to the next feature. Google is growing more social everyday. They aren’t Facebook, but at some point I think we’ll see a lot more things attached to our Google Profiles than we might envision now.

  7. Hi Chris,

    I’m not sure. I don’t see Like buttons on every site that I visit (though I do see a lot of them).

    Google’s search wiki and Google’s stars had some of the same elements that the present Google +1 has, but not a presence on webpages outside of Google search results. Google +1 doesn’t have that yet, but it sure sounds like it’s going to happen. Google does seem to learn lessons from projects like Buzz and Wave (and even Orkut, I think).

  8. Hi Andreas,

    PageRank is a little black and white like that, too. A link counts as a vote for a site, when the link may actually be referring others to a site via a link to say something negative and may be a vote against it.

    I like the idea of “sharing” because it implies that you’re not just voting for something, but you also usually have a chance to explain why you’re sharing it as well.

  9. Hi Rick,

    I think Google’s aiming at Facebook too. I just think they are being patient while they do so, and trying not to take them on head-to-head, but rather one feature at a time.

  10. Either way, I think this introduction is going to have big implications for site owners. I’d agree though with what you said in the comments about the way Google likes to throw things out there to test the waters and see what happens. They’re relentlessly dedicated to testing things bit by bit and it’s one reason their products tend to rock by the time they’re fully rolled out.

  11. Thanks Bill. I’ve had a client ask about the inclusion of the button on his site already so one we need to keep an eye on.

  12. well finally it came up.. i was wondering when google will take this step for the like button on facebook…

  13. Bill,
    Any thoughts on what impact this will have on search ranking – how important? It will interesting to see how this develops.
    Thanks,
    Jamie

  14. This +1 thing might seem like a good idea, but will flip the SEO world upside-down. SEO will be based on how many different people or ip addresses you can get to click +1 on a specific site. It will become either a popularity contest or simply how many ip’s you can get access to.

  15. Jed Eltom – Yes exactly… now seo companies will be paying people to click on +1 buttons regardless if they like it or not!
    I cant see this +1 work! It will be hugely manipulated.

  16. Hi Tom

    I’m not sure that +1 is going to have a tremendous impact on its own, but we’re going to have to wait for that one. What incentive do most people have to +1 a website that they find in search results, especially before they’ve even seen the page?

    But, Google is throwing it out there and testing it, and I think continual testing like that does make a difference.

  17. Hi Steve,

    Guess that’s not a surprise that some people are asking about putting +1 buttons on their websites before the feature is even rolled out to all of Google’s datacenters.

    I’ll be keeping an eye open for it here.

  18. Hi Richa

    It isn’t a surprise that Google would try to do something similar in some ways to a like button. It will be interesting seeing if Google does add more features than just showing that you +1’ed a site to your friends, and adding a new +1 tab to your Google Profile.

  19. Hi Jamie,

    I’m not sure that this will have any impact initially upon search results. I expect Google to do a lot of live testing first and seeing if any data from +1s actually makes search results better or worse, and seeing if people try to abuse it, and how they might be able to avoid that kind of abuse.

  20. Hi Jed and John,

    I’m not sure that +1 will have that big of an impact upon the rankings of pages. The most relevant page for a query is still going to be the most relevant page, regardless of how many +1s it might receive. The people providing the +1s for pages will need Google Accounts to add their +1. I suspect that a lot of fake profiles may be set up, or people may offer services providing +1s for websites, but I suspect that not every +1 will actually be counted, at least when it comes to the power of those +1s to influence rankings.

  21. I am soooo old school. I dont twitter and dont while away my days on facebook. I even buy products from real stores.

    And so this +1 thing has me wonder if I need to upgrade, just to be hip. I havent bothered pushing the like button on sites, thinking people ought to be able to figure these things out themselves. And isnt there just a tiny chance for manipulation and fraud, just like in, dare I say it, adwords?!?

    I am sure that from your previous posts that Google already has a ream of hidden and overt methods of collecting data on sites, so this just appears to be window dressing and keeping up withe the Joneses. Love Google, just not sure about popular voting, online. yet.

  22. My question is: How long will it take black hatters to figure out a way to manipulate these buttons to push them up in the SERP results? IF Google ends up using the data to influence organic search results…

    Mark

  23. As Bill said, Google might undergo intense testing with +1 services. Even without the +1s, Google provides the most accurate result for a query. There is also a high risk for abusing with the many fake profiles to increase the +1s. Google will have to watch over for abusing and avoid these kind of irrelevant activities. The Google should make sure that it should always dominate on every aspects of satisfying the end-user.

  24. I tried to join the experiment but it didn’t seem to work but this does sound like a good new invention.

  25. This shows the attributes of a savvy business. Google know they have to keep up to date with current market trends to consistently remain competitive and capitalize on market share. In many ways, this soon to come +1 feature is a no-brainer. Must say I’m glad that the ratings can only be shared amongst friends or those linked to contact as opposed to everyone globally because that could ruffle some webmaster feathers.

  26. Hi Bruce,

    I’m not sure that Google’s +1 is the social innovation that is a turning point towards Google being “social.” Funny, but Google has been collecting more implicit signals about how people search for a few years now, and it seems like they’ve preferred using that type of information as a ranking signal. Maybe the +1s are window dressing, though a post at the Google Webmaster notes that:

    Today we’ve rolled out this improvement globally to all English-language Google users, and we’ve also incorporated new user feedback signals to help people find better search results. In some high-confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms.

    Do those signals include Google +1s? We don’t know that for certain.

    With any ranking signal, there’s always some potential risk, and some potential cost that needs to be paid to make it more likely that those signals don’t get manipulated or abused. It’s possible that ideas like looking at query breadth might play a role with the new user-behavior signals Google has added.

  27. Hi Mark,

    I would suspect that there are people working on ways to see if they can manipulate this signal. I would also suspect that since the +1 buttons are tied to Google Accounts, that Google may only use something like these +1s based upon certain signals associated with those accounts, and possibly reputation scores associated with them as well. The amount of work that might have to go into creating a Google account where a +1 might help in the rankings of pages may be more work than it might be worth to people trying to abuse the system.

  28. Hi Tessa

    Good points. I’m not sure that Google always provides the most accurate results for any query, but I do think they are trying.

  29. Hi Craig,

    I signed up as well, but don’t really spend too much time logged into my Google Account when I search, so I haven’t seen too many +1s.

  30. Hi Lee,

    Even if the +1 isn’t used to influence search results, I think I agree with you that it makes sense for Google to provide some way for their search results to seem more interactive to searchers.

    I’m glad that the identities of people who added their +1s are limited to people whom you know as well.

  31. Hard to see this being anything more than a gimmick and as other users have rightly pointed out, likely to be subject to manipulation. Interesting to see if this does develop into a useful feature.

  32. This is going to abused so bad it’s not even funny. I can already see people on fiverr offering to give you 200 clicks for $5.

  33. I thing +1 buttons for Google not good :( I never really understood the meaning of Like, thumbs up or down and now plus/minus buttons.

  34. Google has made it clear that this is going to influence search. The question is how?

    Facebook’s Like button has spread like wild fire and makes sense within the social media setting. But, getting individual website owners to place the +1 button outside this setting

    Google has the power to make this happen. But, sustainability in an area where Google has yet to conquer is another issue.

  35. Hi Craig,

    Right now the +1 buttons are only appearing in Google search results, but the announcement introducing them told us that they would become available for site owners to put on their pages sometime in the not too distant future.

  36. Hi Kevin,

    Not sure if Google did this to make the search results a little more interactive and make them seem a little more social since you can see what your “friends” added a +1 to. I don’t beleive that the +1s will be actually impacting search rankings without a lot of study, and without some way in place to mitigate the possibility of manipulation.

  37. Hi Goran,

    If I were in Google’s shoes, I’d introduce something like the +1 button, and not have it count towards rankings until I’ve figured out how to catch people attempting to manipulate it (and maybe not even after then).

  38. Hi Dieu

    At this point, the +1 buttons help make search more interactive, and more social. That seems to be something that a lot of people care about.

  39. Interested to see how the importance of the +1 button will be. Seomoz just did an article on the potential value in Facebook shares (over tweets and other social media actions).

  40. Hi Kentaro,

    I saw the SEOmoz article. I think there’s still a lot of experimentation going on at Google with how social signals from outside of Mountain View may impact search and search results.

    Google seems to have a preference with using their own data collected about search and searchers, from places like their query log files and query session information, custom search engine context files, toolbar browsing histories, and so on, to influence search results. Having their own “like” button seems like a way to provide them with more control over that kind of social behavior.

  41. I am pleased to report that i haave finally got this working. I had to sign in as a normal user( not a business account) and create a profile all using firefox but it was pretty straight forward once i got it done.

  42. Hi Craig,

    Good to hear that you are able to see the +1 buttons in search results. Google announced recently that +1 buttons for webpages would start becoming available within a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see those appear. They also noted that people would be able to see how often people gave a +1 to their pages (within search results presumably) at the Google Webmaster Tools.

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