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Beside being something that will be definitely abused by spammers and SEOs, don't you think it's very unfair for small business?

For a company with many employees it will be very easy to force them to add a +1 each, thus resulting in company's website being upvoted a number of times that is directly proportional to the number of employees the company have.

I know you might say: "well also in real life is like this, if you have many employees, they will spread the voice about your company", but I think it's different, because I heard many times employees talking bad about the company where they work, but they won't be able to do the same on Google cause the manager would immediately track who did not upvote the company website, and as far as I know you can not downvote (I mean they can not even create a fake profile to just downvote, but let's not get into this right now).


UPDATE: After reading some answer I thought to make clear that I did not talk about ranking in this question, probably adding the word SEO at the beginning of the title was somehow misleading.

I do not think this new +1 feaure could influence ranking (at least for now), but still it will definitely influence clicks on results in SERPs, we'll probably see also a new type of SEO.

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Your phrasing indicates a pessimistic view of this development. One person's threat is another person's opportunity :) –  Mike Hudson Apr 1 '11 at 0:02
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4 Answers

It is an interesting development, but according to my analysis it won't be unfair for small business since the +1's that are presented to you are linked to your own/personal network. Google already uses a similar technique for showing who from your network has Tweeted a certain page or blog post. Like this example where my friend Hans Westerbeek has Tweeted a blog post:

Twitter rich snippet

It simply helps determining which websites are worth visiting based on the experiences of people that you know/trust.

I can't seem to find any clue that indicates the effect (if any) of +1 on the SERP positions. I know this doesn't mean Google won't use the data (statistics) when improving their algorithms. But that is a whole different story.

To me it seems an improvement of the search experience and adding value on a personal level. I won't expect Google to be stupid enough to introduce a new tool that improves search engine spam opportunities. I am certainly not dumb enough to advice my clients to use this tool in a spammy way, since the effect may just be the exact opposite.

BTW: It might be a nice question to submit at the blog of Matt Cutts.

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thanks for pointing it out I didn't get that the +1's that are presented to you are linked to your own/personal network, which in some ways makes thing less bad than what I thought. Still a company with many employees that all +1 (under manager threat) the company's website will have more chance to show up some connection in SERPs. About the positioning in SERPs I probaly did not explain myslef in the question, I wasn't worried about it, i did not think it could influence ranking, but still it will influenc clicks on results. –  Marco Demaio Mar 31 '11 at 14:24
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To reiterate what's been said above and maybe offer a new perspective:

1) This is a social tool, not an SEO tool or feature. The primary purpose of this feature is so people who are in the same network can see what each other recommends. You only can see what people in your network recommends. Anyone outside of your network cannot see what you have recommended. The goal is if you see that a friend recommended a page that you may find it more relevant and thus have a better experience using Google search.

2) This isn't a weapon to be used by managers to torture their employees. It also isn't out to get small businesses. In fact small businesses potentially stand to gain from this. Everybody recognizes big brand names but not so much the smaller ones especially the "mom and pop" shops. When purchasing a good or service people tend to stay to name brands unless they have a compelling reason to do otherwise. Seeing that your friends have recommended one such company/website can be quite an endorsement and encourage sales to them.

3) As of now this has no effect on a page's search rankings. This has been made very clear. However, it may have an effect on the search rankings in the future.

4) Before this can be used as a ranking factor Google must overcome several issues including:

  • Spam. You can be sure Google will analyze how this is being used to see if spam is a big issue (you can bet it will be) and to see if they can identify trends in that spam in order to make this a useful ranking factor. Until they can do that with a high percentage of reliability you won't be seeing this happen.

  • This is a self fulfilling prophecy. Sites that rank well will have a much greater chance of getting +1's then sites that rank below them. This is because they have a higher visibility thanks to their high ranking. Thus they get more +1's and thus they continue to rank well. Even though this will eventually be allowed to be put directly on web pages themselves, those pages that rank well in Google will get more traffic and still have a higher exposure to Google users and +1 clicks. Needless to say this makes giving these +1's any ranking value is a flawed prospect. Just like tracking clicks on the search results.

  • The roll out of this will be slow which means that it won't be a ranking factor until it can be used in its full capacity and then properly studied. This means don't expect it to be a ranking factor for quite some time.

  • The odds are this will not affect general Google rankings and will only affect personalized search results. Recommendations by your friends may get a boost. This will keep spam from having any real effect and if you see your friend recommending lots of crap the odds are you'll unfriend them making their efforts less worthwhile. It's a natural form of spam control.

Bottom Line: this is not an SEO tool and will not affect your rankings any time soon. Use it properly (i.e. recommend your friends and sites you like) and see if this can become a useful tool for all of us.

UPDATE

There are no such things as "new type of SEO". There will just be people trying to figure out how to use it to their advantage which is what everyone does with everything. In this case it will be "how to use social tools to my advantage" which just falls under the same umbrella as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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Potentially. But I suspect not, reading the official google pages about it.

http://www.google.com/+1/button/

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/1s-right-recommendations-right-when-you.html

Firstly you have to be signed in to a google account to see it or use it. Joe Public won't see that BigNastyCorporation.com has 1,000,000 +1's while SmallIndependantStore.com has only has 300.

Most importantly - there is no suggestion it will have any effect on how well a site ranks in google.

I'm treating it as nothing more than a potentially interesting experiment.

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+1 This is a social tool, nothing more. And even if it does eventually affect rankings it will be minuscule at best due to its ripe potential for abuse. Also, kudos for being the only one to actually link to the official announcement and not someone else;'s interpretation and speculation about it. –  John Conde Mar 31 '11 at 13:14
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I do not agree that this will have no effect on small business. It is true that you will only be receiving recommendations from your connections that you trust, but THEY will be somewhat influenced by the big companies, if only by the sheer numbers on search results that cross their desktop on any one day.

-Ralph Winters

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