Google launched its now infamous +1 button with a lot of hype in the first half of 2010 and internet professionals believed that it could have major bearing on the way that social media users shared content.
What did Google want the +1 to do?
Back when Google first launched its +1 button, people thought that it would bring about the same kind of social media revolution that Facebook’s Like button brought about. Google itself claimed that the button would allow users of its social network, Google Plus, to share content the same way that the share buttons of networks like Facebook, StumbleUpon and Digg could. The logic behind this button was to provide users of Google Plus to share content they have viewed and liked across the social network and even on other Google owned sites. The button was a direct rival to the Facebook "like" button.
How did users receive it?
As Google Plus failed to generate the same kind of user response as Facebook did, its social sharing button too began to be neglected by users. Since people using Google Plus could not convince all their social friends to migrate to the network and use it often enough, sharing content to the network too became a moot point for most social sharers. Even though features like Hangout and Events helped Google Plus pick up steam with businesses that wanted to share live event and encourage group video chat, Google Plus simply could cope with the pressure of user demands that just didn’t want to give Facebook up.
What was Google’s response to the problem?
To combat this situation, Google launched the +1 button in it search results. And this is where Google really hoped to please ad companies. By allows AdSense to incorporate +1 data, the company essentially gave these ads the chance to include a user’s preference for a page or product in their reports. This did not change the bidding model at all and these new social ads were not charged either. Hence, Google probably thought that +1 button incorporated into shares would revolutionize social sharing and social ads.
Did it work?
Sadly, things did not play out the way the search giant wanted. And the unsexy, less fun version of the Facebook like button did not do much to excite Google Plus users or advertisers.
Why has Google decided to hide the +1 button?
And now, reports are suggesting that Google search results will no longer feature the +1 button sitting right next to them. Instead, it would be hidden until the user places their cursor on a particular result.
When a user hovers their cursor over this button, it turns blue till the cursor is moved elsewhere. Once the user clicks on the button to “+1” a result, the button remains blue. By hiding the +1 button being displayed by default, the search result will decidedly become a lot less cluttered.
Google released a press statement about the change claiming that they wanted users to see the button only when it was most useful to them, i.e., when they wanted to share a result or link with their social network instead of being next to every result on the page. the company also claimed that this will in fact help the results that have been +1’d stand out more on a search result allowing people to see how many people in their Google Plus network have shared or bookmarked a particular result.
What effect has the change had so far?
So far, the change has not had any effect on the away that people users use the +1 button. This basically means that no one is missing the +1 button and no more people are using it than they were a few weeks ago when the button was there besides every result in a search.
What do experts think of the change?
Google is really smart to admit that cluttering the page with the +1 button was a mistake and experts are welcoming this rollback. However, the change is most likely to be the first of many rollbacks that the search giant would need to introduce to ensure that its search results remain optimized for mobile and tablet platforms as well.