Why Click the Google +1 Button on Websites Instead of Liking or Tweeting Them?

Image: This is how logged out Google users could see Google +1 votes. Google later removed that feature.

When Google initially introduced the Google +1 feature for search results many people in the SEO industry and beyond argued that it makes no sense to click +1 on search results. I was in fact supporting this notion of uselessness.

Now that the actual Google +1 button for websites is available as well another round of

“why would anybody click it?”

posts has appeared. This time I’m not so pessimistic though.

I’ve watched the way I use the +1 button and have seen the button appear all over the place within days. Plus, surprisingly the button counts are quite impressive in many cases.

Also I have included the button on SEO 2.0 as well and in spite of not having published any new posts in weeks some +1 clicks appeared on my old postings.

Of course these insights are completely subjective and I have once again no numbers or pretty graphs to back it up.

Yet I have asked myself why the heck I am clicking +1 all the time while rarely clicking “like” or actually tweeting a post in the last few days?

I didn’t want to write another cliche “10 reasons to” click the Google +1 button on websites but there are quite a few use cases by now.


Reasons not to +1

First let me address the most common objections saying that nobody besides webmasters who vote themselves up.

After all +1 votes count as a ranking factor in personalized search. Will only self-promoters have the incentive to click +1? There are basically mainly three reasons not to +1:

  • No friends or followers to send to.
  • Google Profile being obligatory.
  • Questionable privacy and sharing of +1 data.

Why would anybody click +1 if thee are no friends and followers to actually share the news with?

To share you have to click the button and then click share again. On Facebook your friends and family see it, on Twitter your followers with all kinds of backgrounds do.

On Google +1 there is actually a void, nobody really follows your +1 “votes” and thus they are meaningless, unless of course you search for something someone else has voted up by +1.

Then there is the notion that you can’t use +1 without a Google Profile. This point was already used to denounce Google Buzz which requires a profile as well.

Why would anybody want to have a Google Profile nobody else ever visits. After all it’s not a social network, it’s just a profile in the wild.

There is of course the privacy problem like with all Google products these days. While you can opt out and make your +1 votes private many people do not trust Google with their data.

Also some of them might not want to be seen recommending a site in the search results to people they either barely know or worse people they work with etc.

Also as Andrew Nattan points out he doesn’t want to see other people recommending shoes he’d never wear while he just wants to search for shoes without any bias and any interference by other people.


Reasons to +1

I can very well understand all these issues but by now I’m quite convinced that they are not enough to actually stop people from using Google +1.

I do not only mean webmasters including the button but also people clicking the buttons. On the contrary. By now

I believe that there are more reasons to click the +1 button than any other buttons we already have.

First let me explain why I don’t tweet or “like” most sites, even those I really appreciate. For tweets it’s by today’s standards not simple enough.

I have to click on a button and then I end up on Twitter or a third party site where I actually have to click again and in many cases where I have to write something witty to entice my followers to click the link.

In most cases I use my own tools anyway but even my j.mp sidebar takes quite a lot of work in a way to simply share a link.

Now isn’t that a reason to use the Facebook like all the time? Well, it might be but let’s take a look at my 100 – 150 select friends on Facebook.

I befriended mostly people from the search industry but also there is my mother, some people I went to school with in Germany.

Even my first love from Poland (I think I was 12 then) wanted to befriend me. I haven’t met or contacted her in the last 24 years.

I guess most people have more family, friends and colleagues on Facebook. Yet not everybody has friends who speak different languages.

Nonetheless just imagine me “liking” several German and Polish sites or posts a day or even dozens and flooding my US audience on Facebook.

My search industry colleagues might unfriend me soon for flooding them with stuff they can’t even read. So of course I am very choosy what I “like” on Facebook. Additionally

I don’t want people to know that I like gay Muslim anarchists for instance unless they search for them on Google and thus are also interested in this niche topic.

What are some of the benefits of using the +1 button on third party sites? For me personally there are quite a few:

  • I can plus one everything I like, dozens of articles in a row.Nobody gets flooded with those unlike on Facebook.
  • I can vote up German, Polish and even Spanish or French sites (as I learned those languages as well) without ostracizing my English-only audience.
  • I can vote up gay Muslim anarchists without scaring my search marketing friends. Update: Google may show your +1’s to your audience!

Still, you would ask, why? Don’t I admit that nobody can see it? Well, sooner or later you might search for something I already clicked +1 on.

  1. I want to show my appreciation to the webmaster. I want other readers to see that this site, page or post has been approved by other people already.
  2. I want to find this site next time I search for it. Your own Google +1 votes will not only push the resource you voted up in other people’s results it will also show up in yours.
  3. I have a direct influence on the ranking in personalized results. Your friends could see your +1’s in their search results.

There are more reasons to click +1:

Image: my Google Bookmarks results for the query [seo blog]. Take note that the formerly bookmarked results I have clicked +1 on recently have a new date and tend to show up on top.

A +1 updates a bookmark on Google Bookmarks.

Yes, I use Google Bookmarks for ages. I have started around 2006 I think. Today I can find every single site I bookmarked there, I can see all my starred results from former Google SearchWiki.

I can see all the bookmarked sites I clicked +1 in the search results there on top with a new date and I expect them to show all +1’s from search results and websites as well sooner or later.

Last but not least I expect Google to merge Google Buzz and Google+1 in the near future. It does not make sense to have to separate social media entities like that.

You see there are plenty of reasons to use Google +1. Especially for me. I used Delicious as well and I bookmarked dozens of pages a day in some cases.

I may even switch to Google Bookmarks as soon as Google implements one click bookmarking using +1.

What about the privacy? Well, privacy concerns abound when it comes To Google and Facebook and it hasn’t stopped most people from using me.

Even “conspiracy theorists” like myself, Matt Cutts refers to privacy advocates as such use Facebook and Google Chrome. I use Iron, the spyware free Chrome version.

Likewise most people use one or the other Google service, be it

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Analytics

In some cases you will already have a Google Profile by way of using one of these services.

Google could set them up automatically when it decides to. Until now it isn’t obligatory but for some it is and I have one since 2008 I think.

Also I assume that the CIA already knows that I like gay Muslim anarchists so why not tell everybody?

What about the people who do not want me to advise them on buying shoes? Well, some don’t but many others will be glad to have someone they know to help them out.

Do you already use Google +1 on your site? Do you click Google +1 buttons on websites or in search results? Tell me about your approach to Google+ even in case you ignore it.

I have to admit that by 2018 I changed my social media strategy to use Google+ less. i post weekly now and look up shares a few times a week – not daily any more.

I removed the +1 button a year earlier after moving to a new address the the +1 count was “zero” then.

Last updated: April 6th, 2018.