Google Plus: First Review & Expert Analysis

by Ruud Hein June 30th, 2011 

Back in April 2011 we said about Google's Plus One button Google +1 Button Clicking  that despite prior failed social attempts, this could be the Big One.

Yesterday, Google's private launch of Google Plus, the social network, proofed us right: the Google Plus One button was only a publicly visible element from the secretly developed Google Plus social network.

WHAT IS GOOGLE PLUS?

  • Google Plus is a social network, like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, etc.
  • Google Plus is invite only at the moment. 10% testing, 90% marketing ploy.

FEELS VERY GOOD RIGHT FROM THE START

01-welcome-screen

 

Google Plus feels good. It feels great. The user experience is optimal, right from the start.

The welcome screen does a great job of communicating what Google Plus is and does and where you can go to do what why.

Every screen is well thought out, feels intuitive and smooth.

It feels " just right.

YOUR GOOGLE PLUS PROFILE

PROFILE-WELCOME

Your Google Profile basically becomes your Google Plus Profile. A smart move: it promotes the creation of Google Profiles, essentially.

A privacy gaffe is that by default Google Plus shows on your profile who you have in your circles " although it won't show which circles you have.

image

While networks like Facebook and Twitter do the same, Google's play on putting you in charge of what you share with whom (see: Google Plus' Circles) should by default extend to the choice whether to show this information on your profile or not.

In both your profile and privacy settings you can remove the listing of this information, if you want.

PROFILE-CIRCLES

 

GOOGLE PLUS' CIRCLES

02-circles

It's impossible to just "add" people to Google Plus: you add them to a specific circle. Circle as in: circle of friends, or your circle of acquaintances. You can create as many circles as you want and you can easily share per circle as you like.

seo-circle

Unlike with Google Buzz " when Google prepared your social circle by going through your email address book –  nothing is prepopulated. The only automatic action is that Google takes the contacts you blocked in Google Chat and adds them to a special "blocked" circle. That's it. Good job.

Google suggests a bunch of people based on, among other things, who you follow in Google Reader or the soon to be defunct Google Buzz. People added to your circles are also added to Google Reader's people you follow.

You add people by dragging their namecard to the circle you want them to be in.

02a-added-to-circle

The namecards of those already added to a circle get a tiny, grey circle in the right-hand bottom corner. A bit too unobtrusive for my older eyes.

02b-tiny-grey-circle

No matter who adds you, your "stream" stays empty until you add at least one person to at least one circle.

02C-no-circle-no-stream

Once both you and the other party have added each other, your stream starts to populate with their updates, photos and what not.

02d-circles-stream

Adding people to lists quickly becomes a lot of work, the more people and lists you have.

SHARING ON GOOGLE PLUS

Sharing on Google Plus is as easy and simple as sharing on Twitter or Facebook.

post-link

Posted links use the meta description or grab some of the first text on the page.

PHOTOS-NOT-SHARED-ALBUM

Other Google products, like Picasa, are connected to your account but retain their original privacy settings.

PHOTO-TAGGING

Privacy gaffe #2: By default photos can be tagged by anyone in your circles.

image

You can take a few actions on posts that appear in your stream.

stream-post-options

One of the actions is that you can +1 a post:

stream

Very strange is that Google Plus +1 actions do not appear anywhere in Google Plus. The only place they appear, so far, remains in the tab in your public profile.

SPARKS: A CUTE TOUCH

sparks

Sparks ("sparks of interests" Get it?) are topics you can follow. Google Plus curates the content from across the web, not from across your network.

In essence Sparks are Google Alerts but in your Google Plus.

sparks-add

You can pick one of the preselected topics or easily create your own.

HANGOUTS

HANGOUT

Hangouts are places you create or go to when you're ready to, well, hang out.

The idea puts the concept of (group) chat upside down: instead of contacting just anyone on your contact list to see if they want to hang back and chat, you got to a place where it's sure that everyone there wants to chat.

THE VERDICT

Google Plus is brilliantly named. It's like the better, premium version of  Google. "Oh, you have Google? Yeah, I have Google Plus"

It's good. It's really good. Smooth as hell.

It has something Facebook doesn't: the world's largest interest graph of the web. And for the first time it has found a way to mash that graph with people activity: the loop has been closed.

Facebook is a walled garden: Google is the web. Facebook has a limited, manually built graph based on Likes and postings; Google has an automated world-wide graph enhanced with social signals.

In 2005 and even as late as 2007, Google Plus would be the clear winner.  Today the question is "so what?" So it slices bread. And? So it's a toaster. Whatever.

Outside of marketing and SEO professionals, who is interested in joining another social network? For what? Grandma sees Jane grow up on Facebook. We follow that family trip via Twitter.

Google Plus' lock-in will come as it closes loops between it and search. In the near future you will get to pick which trusted circles' search recommendations you want to see. Families, friends, coworkers, companies, whole communities will be able to "subscribe" to human curated or human enhanced search results.

image

image

If you want to see the future of Google Plus, take Google Realtime Search, Google social search, Google Subscribed Links, Google Custom, and Google Reader's Recommended For You and mash them all together.

00D-WEBBAR

If you want to see the future " imagine Google's search page showing a notification that you have new activity in your social network.

00C-WEBBAR

If you want to know the future " imagine Google's search page as the integrated hub for search and social.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the option to add boxes or elements to your Google page showing a photo strip from people in your network or a "What's hot in your circles" list of links.

If you want to see how the whole thing would work for ranking, check out How Google Plus One Works For Ranking.

Again; this is part of the Big One we predicted. A Facebook killer? No. A network that will reach a critical mass of its own and for its own purposes? Yes. Google Plus only needs to be as popular (and as fringe) as Gmail or Picasa in order to make it relevant for the web.

Question: did you get an invite and if so, how do you like Google Plus? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

The only fail factor open is; how will Google handle this?

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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18 Responses to “Google Plus: First Review & Expert Analysis”

  1. mike says:

    I am a member in Google + its look nice

  2. Waqas Rana says:

    "A privacy gaffe is that by default Google Plus shows on your profile who you have in your circles"

    You do realize that it can be hidden.
    Open your profile, edit. click on the world icon that appears next to your circles and change it to whatever you want

  3. khariemendoza says:

    Google strikes again with their new Google +1. Thanks for your helpful information.

  4. anonymous says:

    Google is making a big mistake by not letting everyone to use google+

  5. BG says:

    Hello,
    I can't stop people that I don't know adding me in their circles.
    Google+ needs an approval system to add the circles.

    • BillyBones says:

      I've discovered this too. A lot of random spam pages are adding me to their circles and there's nothing I can do to stop them. It's very disconcerting. I've messaged the people and asked them to remove me from their circle but that hasn't worked.
      I've reported it using the feedback button, I suggest you do the same. There needs to be an option to opt out of being added to a circle or some sort of add request.

    • Dale says:

      I agree, but it's a bit like Twitter in this aspect. I have people follow me and it doesn't really matter too much in my opinion. I don't see them in my stream so it really does not affect the way I share things.

  6. Linda Stacy says:

    When Google can give me another hour or two in the day I'll be all set. LOL! I've not been invited and it's always been my preference to not join by invite, but rather wait until it's open to the public to join. My curiosity on this one may make me break that "rule." It sounds very interesting. (No, I'm not asking anyone for an invitation…yet. Don't waste one on me; I'm not ready.)

    • Ruud Hein says:

      One of the best things of something like this, to me, is the happy buzz we all have in the beginning. Look, washes even whiter this time! :)

  7. Nicky says:

    Google should allow everyone to use google +

  8. [...] Search Engine People: "Google Plus: First Review & Expert Analysis" [...]

  9. Nageeshwar says:

    the saddest part of all these websites is….. u settle down happily in one site and doing ur daily business about it aftr all the tiring experiences of adding, searching, joining, inviting….. business marketing if any etc…. theres a new better site…. and u start the whole exercise again…. could it be possible to import such settings frm other sites into google plus possible, if its so good… so that the whole re setting up business becomes easier….??? well if this happens only then will google plus see me joining it, atleast in the near future… :(

  10. [...] Everything you wanted to know about Google Plus: “Google Plus: First Review & Expert Analysis” [...]

  11. Jon says:

    so that's where you put me! I see me, in your little SEO circle!

  12. Kostas says:

    I am using Google+ for 3 weeks now and I have to admit that it looks like really nice! I am waiting for more features to be added (like interaction with other websites – Youtube i.e.).