Google +1 – really a crowd-sourced security measure for search?

31 Mar 2011

The creation of a +1 button by Google is an evolution of Google’s inexorable drive into social, but is it really about social or more of a way to get people to sort the wheat from the chaff in search today?

Google’s search engine is no doubt the dominant platform for finding what you’re looking for. Often the problem today is that despite Google’s efforts in terms of algorithms people always find a way to buck the system, or at least try to.

Whether people master SEO tactics or whether some hacker has figured out a way to engage in a little SEO poisoning, what should top the results doesn’t always. A single search could yield page after pages of results and often what you’re looking for and can trust is embedded on the third page.

The move by Google to launch a +1 button to allow people to share recommendations so that you know what most people have elected to be a genuine search, article, advertisement, video, whatever, is a welcome move in my opinion.

Location, location, location

Where this gets really interesting is how it will pit Google against Facebook, which has enjoyed massive success in putting a ‘Like’ button beside almost everything.

I’d like to go further – yesterday, Facebook launched its Deals location-based service in Ireland after successful launches in the US and elsewhere in Europe. The service allows you to discover discounts and deals by checking in on your smartphone via Facebook Places.

Google also has a service called Places that acts as a directory of services based on your location. Earlier this year, it was prepared to spend US$7bn on discounts and deals of the day site Groupon.

It remains to be seen if +1 will be as ubiquitous as Facebook’s ‘Like’, but with Google’s reach, that’s always a distinct possibility and it will be interesting to see where it crops up: in newspaper articles, on YouTube videos, on blogs, etc.

But what is really interesting to me is how +1 will integrate with Google’s location strategy and how the right crowd feedback could point you in the right direction while on the street or the road. With Android emerging as the No 1 smartphone operating system on the planet this is well within its grasp.

This is probably just one of many steps into social that Google will take in the coming year. It seems like a baby step but I believe this could leave craters.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years