Google +1, the new bookmarking feature on a Google profile, dances the line between the world of Search Engine Optimization and social media. Sure, Google +1, considered alone, resembles social bookmarking services. But Google’s main business is search no matter what’s its ambitions are. Whereas Delicious, Redit, Digg, and StumbleUpon, each in its own way, broadcast popular content (links) that users post, Google +1 will be connected to the motherboard of the Internet, search. Other comparisons have been made to Facebook’s “Like” button. And those are valid except that the context is different. Facebook, in general, is a closed, relatively private system. In contrast, Google profiles are somewhat more public (though it allows you to change the settings). Still, the inferior Google Buzz is at the heart of Google’s social media strategy. Through search though, Google is hoping to funnel more users onto Google social media, especially as ads and search results will be tailored to correspond with you and your friends’ preferences.
For restaurants who are interested in online marketing, Google +1 will most likely be felt in a refined search algorithm. Essentially, online organic search results will start to reflect people’s preferences (at least the Google sect). That’s not simple popularity, but creating enough of an experience, whether online or in restaurant, that your customers have the presence of mind to click the +1 button. As Google social media is unpopulated, the links that appear in Google +1 won’t have a measurable effect. Restaurants will try to get an advantage by installing the +1 widget on their websites, much like Facebook’s “Like” button. Online marketers will attempt to influence the system to work for their clients. As it always has, SEO will evolve. This is the future, however, as Google hasn’t hooked up Google +1 to organic search results, and I don’t expect that to happen overnight.
As of yet, I am not impressed with Google +1. The first flaw is that who upon finding the correct site returns to +1 the site on Google. Anticipating this, Google plans to offer +1 widgets on websites in the similar way to the Facebook “Like” button. But for website to be induced to do this, Google has to commit to making +1 a factor in organic search results because Google, as a social media platform, is barely alive, so links on someone’s +1 tab carry little currency. Also, the profile pages on Google look plain (and to make them look half decent you must customize) and don’t measure up to any other social media. Undoubtedly, besides being uncool and clumsy, Google’s services, except Gmail and search (maybe a few others), are not intuitive nor streamlined, and sometimes, getting set up feels like navigating the pilot’s controls of a jetliner. That doesn’t mean that may change but barring that Google introduces something unique I doubt the new bookmarking service will be a game-changer. In fact, Google has opportunities in trying to walk the tightrope between the public and private networks (here’s an idea: why not give the capacity for aliases/personas for the public part: an offspring of Facebook/Twitter). Right now, most are turned off by the abuses Google has made in the past with their personal information. Right now, Google hasn’t established a social media that is far different or better than Facebook. And, despite Google +1 being the best move they’ve made into social media, Google may have only so long be people stop caring what they are offering.
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