Google Plus 1 – Two Strange Things, PPC and User Experience

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Everyone has been making a huge deal out of Google +1 and there are some good reasons for it.  The main one is that it is Google.  There are two things though that I haven’t seen anyone talk about anywhere.  Google +1 looks like it will have an effect on PPC and the fact that Google +1 has one very large potential flaw that I have not seen brought up anywhere.  People have probably mentioned it, but I have yet to see an article on it on the sites I read.  I wanted to do a short post about Google +1 and go over two of the things which I think are big that no one else seems to notice or talk about.

Google +1 effecting PPC.

When you look at Google +1, you’ll notice that you have the pretty +1 button next to your SERP results.  What’s interesting though is that the Google plus 1 box also appears next to PPC ads and results.  Here is a screen shot.


Google Plus 1 PPC
Google Plus 1 PPC

The reason that I think that the Google plus 1 box on the PPC ads is interesting is that it could play into the user experience and the PPC auctioning algorithm.  The more people that like the ad or the site for the ad, the more the ad may get shown.  If the Google plus 1 box has an effect on quality score for being relevant, because the end users are voting for it, the days of having to spend more to get an increase in traffic and upping your quality score may be coming to an end.  More votes for the ad and site as well may also end up resulting in lower CPCs.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Google plus 1 box will have an effect on Adwords and how much of an effect it will be.  On the other hand, the plus 1 box showing on Adwords could be a mistake or just part of the beta test but not the full test.  This leads me to my second point though which is how can the Google +1 box accurately or even remotely accurately judge an actual user experience.

How can the Google +1 box actually judge a user experience?

My opinion is that it absolutely cannot accurately judge it.  Sure it can give a good estimate but there is a huge flaw.  Because it is in the SERPs and not on an actual page, you have to rely on the end user coming back to the SERPs after they finished shopping and then plus 1 it.  Sure some people may have shopped at that store before, so they just click on the Google +1 box before they go to the store.  The thing is that I am fairly pessimistic and I really doubt that many users will go right back to the Google SERPs right after shopping, playing or reading just to click the +1 button because they had a good experience on that page.  Chances are they will go to Facebook, Twitter, a news site, check their email for confirmations of their order, or just close their browsers.  I’ll go into why it cannot compete with the Facebook Like button in a second, I just want to make one more point.  The other times people may click the Google +1 button, besides by accident, is because they just like that site or had a good experience on it before.  The issue is that since they haven’t actually been to that page showing up in the SERPs yet, what if the page ends in an error, has no product, is a bad user experience, etc…  The biggest issue is that the Google +1 button isn’t after the user experience, it’s before it.  Now we can compare to the Facebook Like button.  (On a side note, if the end user also has the Google Toolbar on their browser, Google can tell if the person has visited that particular page or site.  We just have to hope that Google is taking that into consideration.)

The biggest issue is that the Google +1 button isn’t after the user experience, it’s before it.

This is just my opinion, but the reason that the Facebook Like button is a much better read than Google +1 is that people hit Like or Share as they are going through or after they experience the webpage or website.  It is a real time like or move on.  Because the webmaster can install it and because it is a measure of the end user experience while they are actually on your site, my opinion is that it is a much more accurate measure of the quality of your content and pages.  Because the Google +1 box appears in the SERPs and not on the pages themselves, to me it doesn’t seem like an accurate measure of the quality.  I am also making an assumption here, but I highly doubt that many consumers and end users are going to constantly hit the back button to +1 the page or SERP.  Some might, but I don’t think it will be as common or likely.  What would be smart, if Google decides to continue with the +1 box, is that they make an option for it to be included on pages and on blogs like the Facebook Like buttons and Retweet buttons.

Anyways, I hadn’t seen anyone really talk about these before so I wanted to bring them up and see if anyone else had any opinions on them.  Please feel free to share below and as always, if you don’t want me to publish your comment, which seems common, leave a note not to publish your comment.  =0).

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4 thoughts on “Google Plus 1 – Two Strange Things, PPC and User Experience”

  1. Seems like that would piss off advertisers, because they do PPC to get above the fold. So they spend a ton of money, and then get beat out because another competitor spent some funds to get people to hit their +1? I just see it getting abused all across the board, but if you’re paying to be on top, then you shouldn’t have to win a popularity contest to boot. Just my opinion at least. 🙂

  2. This is crazy, another mis-step by Google who is trying to come up with something to compete with Facebook. I agree 100% on your observations and of Kristi’s mention of abuse. I can see the people writing bots right now to go out and click on the +1. Facebook has the same problem with likes, it’s also abused.

    Most normal people won’t even see it, understand it, or just completely ignore it. But the abusers will beat it to death.

    My bet is this will all go away as soon as the bots roll out and Google will have another huge and public failure.

  3. I agree. Google’s biggest barrier to owning search for a long time to come may be it’s lack of social data. +1 is a weak and as you said, flawed, attempt. It makes no sense from a UE perspective for +1 to work this way. I think they are going to have to rely on +1 from browsers, no SERPs.

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