This guest post is by Sriram Reddy of BloggingTipster.com.
Allen: Billy, Why are you looking so gloomy? Did your Twitter follower count halve overnight? Hehe…
Billy: No, I just had such a cheesy experience Googling for material for Prof. Dwyer’s assignment. There was an unusual amount of spam in the search results. I had such a hard time scanning through all those search results, but I finally found what I was really looking for.
I wish there was a way I could shield others in the Internet community from visiting some of those sites I just visited—trust me, they were a sham. If only there was a way I could bury some of those results in Google’s SERPs. Tough luck that Google doesn’t give me an option to discourage my friends from clicking through such results. Black-hat SEOs slowly seem to be getting the better of Google search.
Allen: Ahh, I agree Google’s hasn’t wiped out spam completely, but don’t you worry: Google’s Panda algorithm is quite efficient in dealing with spammers. Even better, the recently launched Google +1 button is definitely going to add the human factor that Google’s page rank algorithm so gravely needs. It’s a huge step towards removing spam.
Billy: Hmm, yeah I must admit I love the idea of +1’ing something. It makes me feel more in control. I can’t help but think of large outfits that are going to abuse the +1 by recommending their members to +1 their own site through personal profiles.
While the +1 button will guide SERPs in the right direction, I wish Google would introduce a -1 button too, to neutralize the effect of gaming the +1 button by some publishers. The first thing I would do if Google released a -1 button, is -1 all the spammers on my research for Prof. Dwyer’s assignment. Trust me, I am so disheartened with my searches today.
Allen: Whoa! A Google -1 button! Don’t you think we have enough social buttons to deal with already?
Billy: I firmly believe that if you had a bad encounter with a search result, then you need to tip off your friends and the world about it, so that they don’t need to make the same mistake you made—if they choose to go by your recommendation, that is.
You know what else I would love to see on a Google -1 button? Wen people -1 something, it would be good to see their -1 displayed publicly across Google’s search results as annotations on the content they -1’ed—just like the +1s show up in results.
Let’s take the example of the assignment that Prof. Dwyer gave us today. Everyone in the class will be searching for the same information on Google, and we will definitely all be coming across websites that are spam. If I wasn’t satisfied with a search result, I could simply click the -1 button. It would then show up on my friends’ search results that Billy -1’ed this. How cool would that be?! Since I had not liked the link, I’m sure most in our class wouldn’t waste their time on it.
Allen: Ah, that reminds me, I’d better finish up with Prof. Dwyer’s assignment soon, or I’ll be looking at my second grounding in a week.
Billy: Bah! For commonly searched terms the results by and large aren’t too bad. But for niche terms, I’ve noticed that I have to spend quite some time searching through affiliate links and aimless blogs before I find what I want.
I’ve heard that one third of all search queries are first-time searches. Since Google is still improving its search algorithm for first-time queries, it would be their advantage to use the help of people like us to vote out spam. This makes a strong case for a Google -1 button.
Allen: Maybe you’re pressing the Panic button a little too soon here. A -1 button would be worse than unleashing a fire-breathing dragon.
It would open up websites to social attacks. Organizations will go berserk -1ing their rivals out of competition. This would have much more serious consequences than organizations just gaming the +1 button. This would be abused far more than the +1. No wonder Facebook hasn’t rolled out a Dislike option!
Billy: I’m not sure if I would be too worried about publishers -1ing their rivals. Google is smart enough to handle such a situation. I’m sure it’s not out of their reach.
Just the way a +1ers identity will be tagged to his +1 recommendation, -1s could also be tagged to people’s profiles as well. An algorithm from Google to give higher relevance to -1s from certain profiles than others which have had a history of gaming buttons would definitely turn the tables in Google’s favor.
Also, if a publisher has made a brand for himself online, even if a rival manages to mass -1 his content, how can we discount the publisher’s followers? They wouldn’t want their favorite brand to be mass -1ed, would they? They wouldn’t hesitate to +1 to salvage their favorite brand.
Reddit, Digg, and Google’s very own Youtube work on similar models. They pull the best content to the top of the pile through a mixture of positive and negative feedback, and they are pretty competent at it. We know Google’s capable of taking this to the next level.
Allen: You are making sense, but I’m sure there are many companies out there that wouldn’t be comfortable with such a model. Especially small publishers.
Billy: Yeah, there might be some resistance initially, but a -1 button will really do wonders for the Web. Imagine a universe where there is no spam at all in Google’s search results. What won’t we do to see a day like that!
Most importantly, Google would be empowering people to choose what they want to see. If Google’s given me the option to decide what’s useful for my friends and the Web, then it should definitely give me an option to decide what’s bad as well.
Allen: Hmm.. You are making sense now … but I’m still not so sure yet. Anyway, it’s getting late, I gotta go. Catch’ya tomorrow.
…While the Google -1 button is still an idea that most of us fancy, this conversation between Billy and Allen was an attempt at seriously contemplating the Google -1 button.
Who are Allen and Billy? Allen and Billy (and Prof. Dwyer) are characters that landed from my imagination, as I needed two characters through which I could put forth my views and counterviews on the Google -1 button.
What do you think about the idea of a -1 button? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments.