Saturday, November 12, 2011

You are on Google+. Even before signing up!

Arguing and speculating over whether Google+ is going to be a success or a failure is irrelevant, to say the least. Google+ is primarily a platform to integrate all of Google’s existing products and properties. If your’re using Gmail, if you’re signing on to Google Search and/or any of its other products like Youtube, Adwords, Google Docs, Blogger you have literally joined Google+. It’s part of what is called, the Ecosystem approach. There are simply so many compelling product offerings from Google that one is destined/forced to use the product or service. In other words, ‘Welcome, you’re already on Google+. You may want to join our social network too, if you wish. We will offer a chance for you to be prominently shown on our search results(That’s hardly an option considering its Google!).

Google’s ambition with Google+ goes way beyond the realms of just a social network. They have realised that socially curated data is a valid source of understanding the popularity of an article or webpage and improving the accuracy of their search results. They finally have a strategy in place to do exactly that, without involving many of its employees, the +1 button. Although this is an idea copied from Facebook’s like button, thanks to Google’s global Adwords/Adsense reach, they have enormous persuasive power with website owners to show the +1 share button on their webpages or articles(and even get the Facebook Like button removed if they so wish, provided their ‘Do No Evil’ interpretation allows for it, sorry Google!). Website owners have two really good incentives,

  • they get paid for placing Google’s ads on their website so they listen to Google,

  • their website could show up much higher than it already does on Google’s search results because more +1 clicks equals more popularity and higher search ranking!

As you see, Google’s intention behind this strategy is to blend the +1 popularity of a webpage or an article with its own propriety Pagerank algorithm while displaying search results. In exactly what ratio Google will index +1 with its regular algorithmic rankings will be something to watch out for and could evolve as more +1 data becomes available to Google. All in all, integrating crowd-sourced indexing through the +1 button into its popular search results should ultimately reveal better search results when we use Google Search.

I’m forced to make a distinction between Google+ and its new social network product which I think is actually a new name for Google Profiles, a product Google discontinued immediately after Google+ social network was launched. Google+ social network is enticing us with granular privacy settings by allowing us to reveal only those items we are comfortable doing. Even here there are a lot of options. This I feel is real power in our hands, just like Twitter, to control what we want the rest of the world to know about us. Google hopes that we will realise this sooner or later.

Now you know why Google doesn’t really care if we actually join the Google+ social network or not. The intention is not only to compete with Facebook or Twitter as a social network. They have a new strategy for world domination- the ecosystem approach. But we as users may want to join if we want to be visible on the internet of the future. It’s Google, after all!

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