How “1” Is Not The Loneliest Number But Rather A Sign of Popularity

OneIt seems that more and more time is being spent using Google+, at least for me. Yes, I’ve heard people say that Google+ isn’t relevant and that no one really uses it, but I find that it’s helpful in its own ways. Sure we can post things to Twitter and to Facebook, but for me, I find that Twitter is more “pray and spray” frequent outbursts of communication while Facebook is more a closed dialogue because I can isolate it to my friends who I have a strong relationship with. So what do I do if I want to have frequent outbursts of communication, but yet still make it more or less casual or generic? Well that’s where Google+ has come in. Yes, there are¬†obviously things that are still lacking from Google+, but that will have to wait for a future post because what I’d like to focus on here is Google’s fixation with a number…the number one.

A few months ago, I wrote a post with my thoughts on Google+’s new feature +1. In that post, I made some assumptions that the +1 feature was a method of gamemanship relating to bolstering search marketing. It’s not a bad thing that +1 could be used to help increase the rankings of pages because it then relies not only on a computerized algorithm, which is what I think Google Panda is all about, but also adds an extra layer of relevance with the human connection. Sure, you can have a page wholly dedicated to the technology behind the smart television, but don’t you think that having multiple people giving that site a +1 would showcase how particularly useful and recommended it should be? And wouldn’t you find it suspect that this smart television page that has an enormous number of people giving +1 to it would find itself not in the number one ranking when searched for it?

But in interesting twist, what would you say if the +1 feature was something more than just a way to “game” search marketing? Yes, it would probably be a bit far-fetched because shouldn’t everything be tied back to Google, whose core competency is search? Well Google isn’t just search – it’s a deeper purpose of cataloging all the data that’s happening on the Internet and while they didn’t succeed with Google Buzz, they’ve managed to secure a good foothold with Google+. So beyond the fact that +1 adds some demographic information to how pages react both from a content-keyword relevancy to now incorporating sentiment, Google is offering people the chance to catalog their experiences online. In essence, they’ve decided to steal some of the thunder away from social bookmarking services like Delicious.

Google +1 Bookmark

In the above screenshot, doesn’t it look like it’s a similar copy to Delicious? Sure, you’re not going to have tagging options (which should help make things easier to find from a search perspective), but what this offers is a catalog of your interests. They say it themselves on your Google profile: “+1 the things around the web you like, agree with, or want to recommend to others” and that’s what people are doing. With more and more people joining Google+ now that it’s open to the public, more Google accounts and Google+ profiles are being generated and this will be a clean way for people to find out just what they’re interested in. Sure, you might want to talk about technology or business all the time, but now with +1s, you can actually show that there are stories that you find fascinating, not just talking about it.

And these +1 “bookmarks” are all from external sites. So say that you read a blog post that you find fascinating, like Starbucks’ recent stand to help try and spur US job creation¬†and you +1 it, if you’re a business person, people who come across your profile will be fascinated to know that you’re sharing relevant content. Plus (no pun intended), if you have given +1 to multiple pieces of content, that might be a good sign for marketers and businesses to reach out to you and better target you to attract you to their product or service. I, personally, do a lot of photography and am fascinated by photo taking techniques. So if I constantly shared on Google+ photography content from third-party sites, then I would gather that someone like Canon, Nikon, or another photo-related company that wanted to reach out to bloggers or “influencers” would find this a helpful way to see who to follow and interact with.

Overall, let’s put it this way, the Internet is all about search and content. And the +1 feature has offered a way to innovate and contextualize the way people see information. In essence, the more +1s you receive for your page, potentially the higher your ranking (although Google has never confirmed that this happens). Regardless, there is some strong potential for Google to take the “1” and help change the way we view information.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."