The Google +1 has undergone a radical change. For some, it ignited outrage and cries of “Facebook-like” qualities. For others, it was a very exciting update that holds many possibilities.

If you are inclined to the outrage side of the debate, there are some things you may need to understand that may not have been totally obvious. In this post I want to break down exactly what this new +1 behavior means to you and hopefully lower your blood pressure to a sustainable level.

For all of you who already think the new +1 behavior is a good thing, this will just be an added fuel to your fire.

P.S. my Insiders list gets breaking news and exclusive updates before anyone else. Join the list below:

So What Changed?

“Many of the best photos, articles and videos we find online are the ones recommended by friends. So we’re making it easier to discover these recommendations in your Google+ stream.” -Shimrit Ben-Yair

In case you didn’t see this, Shimrit Ben-Yair of the Google+ team announced this new feature here. Basically, you will now begin seeing posts such as this in your Home stream:

Dustin plused this

It is a post that says [User] +1’d this post. I didn’t share it, I just +1’d it and Google+ is showing it in your Home stream.

Two Parts to This

1. Other people’s +1’s

When someone whom you have circled +1’s a post, Google is going to algorithmically determine whether or not the post is something you would be interested in as well. If it determines the +1’d post to be of interest to you, it will show in your home feed.

2. Your +1’s

Likewise, when you +1 a post, there is a chance it will show up in the Home feed of those who have circled you.

This is a way of adding more, relevant content to your Home stream and (more importantly) the Home steam of others, in an attempt to increase the reach of great content.

Reaction #1 – Isn’t that just like Facebook ‘Likes’?

No. Besides the fact that some of those ‘Likes’ showing up in your Facebook feed are fake (or old), the idea behind Google’s +1 is very different. What you see is based on what might interest you and you can always filter them out by using circles.

These are not advertisements, nor are they apps automatically posting fake activity. This is real activity, from real people, that Google+ thinks might be of interest to you.

Reaction #2 – This is going to clutter my home feed!

A few things to note that should settle this:

1. You’re not going to see every single +1 of every single person you have circled.

That would be more ridiculous that a sea lion singing Justin Bieber’s “Baby” while riding a unicycle on a tight-rope in the middle of Manhattan.

You will only see select +1’s that Google thinks you will find interesting or relevant.

2. You will only see these +1’d posts in your Home (or “All”) stream.

You will not see these show up in your individual circle streams. So if you’re filtering your stream using circles, you have nothing to worry about. But if you’re in your “All” stream frequently, you may want to start being more intentional about your circles and the filtering they offer.

3. You can control the volume.

In case you didn’t know, you can increase or decrease the “volume” of specific circles within your Home stream. For instance if you only wanted a few of the updates from those in your Colleagues circle, you can set that circle volume to “Fewer”. If you have a circle of Frienemies that you never want to see in your Home stream, just uncheck the “View in Home stream” box. If you have a circle of Social Rock Stars whose posts you never want to miss, you can check the “More” option and then click the little bell to turn on notifications.

circle volume control

Personally I don’t spend much time in the Home stream. I’ve been really specific with my circles and spend nearly all of my time in the circle specific streams. If I didn’t have my ear to the ground on Google+ updates, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this for weeks.

Why This Is A Huge Deal

This one feature now gives you the chance to exponentially increase your reach. If you have any ambition of growing your online following, this should be exciting news for you!

This means that if someone +1’s your post it now has the potential to be recommended (important word) in the stream of their followers. This means that if an influencer (someone with a large following) +1’s your post, you have instant exposure to the people in their audience who may be interesting in what you have to say.

Look, Robert Scoble himself even said he wants to “Plus your things!”

Scoble plus your things

An influencer may not always have the time to reshare your posts, but it only takes a split second to give you a +1. That is powerful.

What if I don’t want people seeing what I +1?

You can turn them off at any time. As with everything on Google+ you decide your privacy level. If you don’t want anyone to see your +1’s, you can change the setting to “Only you”. If you only want certain circles to see your +1’s, you can set that in the “Customize” section. If you don’t have anything to hide about what you’re +1ing, you can set it to “Public”.

I’ve given a step by step instruction on how to do exactly this in this post on Google+.

It’s also important to note that privacy will still be maintained on +1’d posts as only those the post was originally shared with will be able to see the +1 activity. So if the original post you +1’d was shared privately, nobody who didn’t already have access to it can see your activity on it.

The Real Power: Recommendation

the real power of google+

The reason this is going to work out for everyone is simple: Googles ability to recommend things that are of interest to you is it’s most powerful tool. If successful, you will find things that interest you, your experience will be enhanced, you will use the product more. This is a perfect win-win for everybody.

This is true of search, advertising, and everything else that is consumer oriented. The better they get at knowing how to serve you the things you want, the happier you will be and the more you will use their products.

If you embrace this change, I guarantee you will see higher engagement, more people adding you to their circles, and find more interesting content that will open the door to more valuable relationships than before.

Are you convinced yet that this is a good thing? If not, tell me why in the comments below!


  1. says

    One addition…according to the official Google+ help page on this, things you +1 may potentially be shown not just to people who have circled you, but to your Extended network: people whom they have in their circles.

  2. terri benson says

    ok, so its not as bad as i previously thought. but i will have to re-arrange all my circles because i can’t turn it off. i use the home stream almost exclusively because i am not a business or a cause that needs this. i have tons of “googlies” that i got all on my own just by being “me”. i don’t need 5 thousand followers. the main issue other than that is too much clutter around a post. really, i just want the *option* available to turn it off so i don’t have to see it. thank you very much for the added info.

    • says

      I’m glad it was somewhat helpful to you Terri! I still think that the Home stream is the worst way to browse. Once you’ve been intentional about filtering the streams, you’ll never want to go back.

      • terri benson says

        no. stop telling me what i want. if i could turn off “TRENDING”, too, i would.
        just let US decide. Thank You.

        • David Whitworth says

          Terri, I don’t know if this is an option but I thought of it when I saw your concerns. What if you put everyone you have in a circle into another circle titled “Everyone”. You can then turn off this feature for that circle and then filter your stream to this circle. That way you get everyone in one stream and you have the power to filter their +1s. Hope that works for you.

        • Angry Thinker says

          He is not telling you what you want, he is telling you his opinion but leaving it up to you to decide.

      • says

        I keep seeing that you can filter streams – but don’t quite understand how – And, if I want many people to see something I have posted, doesn’t that mean I have to post it to that many more places?

        Can you shed some light on this for me?


  3. says

    Very exciting update, Dustin. I can see how some may worry about clutter but the tuning provided will help manage that – and the promotional value far outweighs it. Thanks for the details.

  4. Naveen says

    Greetings from Sri Lanka Dustin.

    When I got the update Google+ has revamped its ‘+1’ feature, I was under the impression that every single ‘+1’ I give will be seen by my circles and vice versa. Obviously, I feared the worst. Your article has been most enlightening, and got to say, this was the best update I got on what exactly the new ‘+1’ is all about. Kudos to you.

  5. Tyler says

    I think you provide a very well tempered approach here. I was shocked when I saw the hysteria surrounding the announcement of this feature. It’s almost as if some people immediately assumed a lot of bad things would happen without actually thinking it through. I’m looking forward to this change because I think it will be interesting to learn more about what interests my friends and hopefully I will see engagement grow on my own posts. I’ve always been more of a follower and commenter on Google+, but this helps motivate me to create more good content myself.

  6. SandraP says

    ok-so if we want to turn the volume down, then we have to turn down the volume down on the circle. So.. if I circle you because I like your original content, but you totally love cat photos and you plus them all day long, I need to turn down the circle that you are in. So, now am I not seeing your content any more, but I’m also not seeing the content of everyone else in the circle either.

    I fail to see how this is going to increase interaction in any way, shape or form.

    Plus, now I think you’re a nut ball because you like cat photos so much…. 😉

    • says

      Sandra, yes– the volume control effects the entire circle. But if you really want to see that circles stream, just click on that stream and all the clutter will disappear!

      I’ve already had loads of comments, shares, and interactions because somebody saw a +1’d post in their stream from someone they know/trust.

      And I actually don’t like cat photos much– they’re just easy to make fun of. 😉 Regardless– I am a nut ball, and I’m okay with it. 😉

      • SandraP says

        I guess it depends on just how much time we want to spend managing our circles. I’m not great at going to individual circles. I usually prefer to view all my circles at once. Except for one circle where the people go who I really don’t want to miss anything.

        I can see that you are probably getting a lot more attention now – and especially on this post, because of all the controversy. However, the first day it was out, I came home from work and went through my stream on my regular plussing blitz, plussing all the things I saw that I missed that day. Suddenly I had a complaint from someone who follows me that they saw 4 of my plusses in 5 minutes, and that I was spamming them.

        They threatened to uncircle me.

        That doesn’t sit well with me. Google made this change, and now “I’m” to blame for it and I have to change the way I do things. Unfortunately, I think this could be a good tool, but the management options just aren’t’ there. I ended up turning it off for fear of spamming my friends, which is too bad, because I follow some amazing photographers that I think could benefit from being seen more (I do reshares as often as I dare).

        I think this would be an AWESOME idea… in a separate stream.. like the old “incoming” tab… that way you could take a quick look any time you feel like it and people wouldn’t have to feel bad about leaving the option turned on.

        And I’m not biased against cats or cat lovers…. but it was easy to use your example and make fun of you! ;P

        I’m a nutball and I’m ok with it too…. but I don’t really need the world to see exactly what I’m plussing in order to prove it to them! lol!! 😉

    • says

      +SandraP – Spot on: and many people are ditching smart people for #caturday-type posts… I think this should be off by default for people with less than 1000 followers.

  7. says

    Dustin, Thanks for the detailed writeup here… I think I would have missed this important change as well since I spend very little time in the “Home” stream – mostly in my targeted Circle’s stream… Hmmm, I may need to change that at least for a little while to see how this is working.

    Question: Can you see if your own posts that show up in the Home stream are getting recommended this way?

    • says

      You’re welcome Ronnie! To answer your question– I’m not sure. I have seen a couple “inception” posts where I see a +1’d post of a picture of one of my +1’d posts. (Even trying to type that made me dizzy.)

  8. Simphiwe Mkhize says

    You said it all This one off the great post ever read about Plus one. never the less Google+ Rocks

  9. says

    Thanks Dustin. My first reaction was on no more clutter to wade through but it seems that it is going to be relatively easy to manage this. Looks like a good feature. As you say Google’s genius is it’s ability to identify what interests people.

  10. says

    Seriously excellent explanation. I love the new +1. And you did a great job of breaking down how to control any “overflow”. Will share post in my stream. THANKS DUSTIN!

  11. says

    Hey Dustin,

    I appreciate the low down on this new bug on the +1 feature.

    I’m sad to report though that it did nothing to convince me that this is a positive thing. It is like Facebook because Google doesn’t give you the control to opt out (yes you can turn your own off, but you can’t turn off other’s). It’s also auto-sharing via their algorithm. It may not be an app, but it’s still Google deciding what gets shared on my behalf, without my permission. The execution may be different, but the result it the same.

    Google chose to ignore how we use the +1 button and instead force us to use it the way they want us to use it. Not very user friendly IMO.

    Ronnie brings up a good point. Do we even know what is being shared on our behalf? If not, that’s also very facebook-like since they do that all the time.

    • says

      Well, you’re certainly welcome to your opinion Phil. I will say though that you may not have known that your public +1’s were always available for people to see via your profile (unless you’ve disabled that tab). As a business person though– you should be embracing the opportunity to have your content shared with a wider audience.

      Regarding Google choosing how you use the +1 button– they did create it didn’t they? Isn’t it up to them to decide what it does/how it functions? C’mon now!

  12. says

    The problem then, if “You will only see select +1′s that Google thinks you will find interesting or relevant” is true, is the lack of our ability to say back to the algorithm – This is crap, you got it wrong, I’m not at all interested.

    • Conrad Dunkerson says

      Um… what exactly did you think ‘+1’ was for?

      There is no lack of ability to ‘tell the algorithm’ what you think. That’s the whole point of the +1 system. Every time you +1 something you are telling the algorithm that it should give you more posts linked to that one, and every time you don’t +1 something you are saying that you should get less of that sort.

      • says

        I like it Conrad – the Simpson approach to social Gorilla media marketing – 😉

        You are right about what the +1 does and it’s absence; however, the difficulty is that Gorilla works on an algorithm and that algo is pretty good and improving, but it still has the potential to get it horribly wrong – remember that nonsense a couple of weeks ago when it was serving up some particularly dodgy sites for a relatively innocent sounding query, so a facility for direct feedback will always be needed. It’s just a shame that G doesn’t appear to put m,any people into customer facing support to act on this feedback – look at what has been happening in local for years!

  13. Mark-John Clifford says


    As usual you have done a fantastic job of explaining this new feature to make it a change worth accepting and trying out. You know how I feel about change. I embrace change and then there are times I hope back a little till I know all of the details. Well the details are in and I believe this change will help everyone from the G+er’s with very little following to the G+er’s who have millions of followers.


  14. Conrad Dunkerson says

    I think they could eliminate most of the concerns around this feature by giving users the choice of opting out of having their name DISPLAYED on posts which show up due to +1 activity. The algorithm can still compare how frequently User B hits +1 on something which showed up in their stream due to a +1 from User A… they just wouldn’t know it showed up BECAUSE of User A, and that should be alright.

    Thus far the predictive logic here seems fairly crude, but Google being Google I fully expect this to grow and evolve to the point where it will greatly focus stream content to what the user is likely to be interested in. The more comfortable people feel +1’ing things the more data will be available and the stronger the predictive algorithms can become. Heck, I’d even be for having this work with people outside your circles entirely… if collected +1 data showed a very high correlation of interests between two users who have never heard of each other why wouldn’t it make sense to drop a few +1’d posts from each into the stream of the other? If those posts then gain +1’s from the receiving user it strengthens the shared interests and could effectively result in ‘spontaneously grown communities’ of people interested in the same topics who could be directing interesting content to each other… even without knowing who +1’d a particular post.

    • Jenna Christopherson says

      I had to read this comment twice. The first time I was like, “HUH?!?” Then, I read it again and figured some of it out. I don’t mind people knowing that I +1’d stuff, I am a writer and as such publicity is good for me. Google+ is a social site where people can connect with friends, make friends (this is better than facebook, imo) and add to their knowledge about things. At least, this has been my experience.
      However, at the end, Conrad said something which I like very much. I have a hard time finding things that interest me in certain areas on Google+. A suggestion that someone, whom I don’t know and have never heard of, likes the same kinds of things I do would be a great boost for me! I don’t have a lot of time for searching these things out on my own and would love to have some help in this area.
      Thank you, Conrad, for putting into words what I have been trying to voice for over a year!

  15. David Foster says

    Great post! I am excited for G+. I am a recovering Facebook addict ready for a new addiction, and to be quite honest I just love G+ so much more. EVERYTHING about it. I like how now it will allow you to find better content. I really need to figure out how to get all of these damn cats out of my freaking stream. I think I am going to create a cat circle!

    Also, I see how prominent you are on G+…you should really consider adding G+ comments to your blog here. Is this WordPress? Nice site!! :)

    • says

      Thanks David! If I haven’t circled you yet, give me a +mention on g+ and I’ll be sure that I do!

      This is proudly built on WordPress and I am actually drafting a post about why I would not use a social-network-specific commenting system. Stay tuned. 😉

  16. says

    I have to say that I just plus things to show the one who posted a message that I found it interesting, funny, beautiful etc.
    But not to show other people I plussed something. There’s a resharing option for that, so I can share it with others if I’d want to… I’ve effectively organised my circles and wonder if suggestions based on plusses are better then for example, suggestions based on comments of people from my circles on posts…

  17. Rose says

    To the Zars, you all are awesome because this is worse than Calculus in high school! I can’t thank you enough! Embracing the change!

  18. says

    I eventually learned to like the FB ticker area so I could quickly see what people are liking. I like the idea that this is in a separate area, so the circle workaround should work although I’d have to click on that circle to see it, whereas the ticker is always there. Most of us like the home screen as it’s kind of a dashboard. I find I am not clicking each circle and I think most people are doing the same.

    I fought the off centred white screen debacle as well, with some CSS and also hide ads on Twitter with a little CSS magic and Stylebot extension.

    My life has been about going against the status quo, not accepting what reality is thrown at me, that’s why I’m at home practicing guitar after 30+ years of playing, taking the odd integration contract (also from home) with no debt, commuting or cubicles. :)

    • says

      I am with you on the anti-status quo. That’s why when things change I’m more inclined to embrace and explore them then fight against them. Rather than not accepting I tend to work out how to use it best to fit my goals. Sounds like you’re living the life though!

      Rock on sir!

  19. Charlton says

    This is incredibly attractive for marketers, spammers, and shills. I’ve set Google to *not* show my +1s to other people, and I expect I’ll be removing a lot of people from my circles unless they likewise turn off the +1 notifications.

    • says

      Yes.. exactly.

      Childish faith in guggle imbecilo-rithms is akin to tooth fairy belief or aqua Buddha belly rubbing.

      And the insult to injury is the whole notion that we have nothing more important to do than designate a bunch of narcissistic ‘significance’ circles where this bunch matters more than some other bunch.

      Look. I just dump everyone into “Friend’ and only look at home stream because I have a life.

      It has been my experience across the entire gurgle system that this autistic attempt to fathom what I care about using math fabrications only results in more narrow concentrations of material and a trend to elimination of the joys of chance.

      The more they try to tell me what I like based on inept derivation, the more I have to do work arounds to prod the thing.

      Less is more.

  20. Fez Saige says

    I wonder how much clean up I would need to do if I found myself going down the wrong path. Let’s say I +1’d and Google thinks this is something of interest and before I know it I am inundated with information on the salient and excruciating details of the waterwheel plant (which was only a passing fancy!).

  21. Alan Switzer says

    Great explanation. I’ve been shocked at the level of “outrage” because people are comparing this to the system of promoting “Likes” on Facebook. It’s not at all the same thing.

    One important point concerning privacy. People are concerned that their +1s are going to be shown to people who normally couldn’t see them, but that’s not the case. If you see a post that has been +1’d, it is a post that you already had a right to see, either because the person who +1’d it is already in your circles, or the post was public to begin with. In other words, those same posts were available for the recipient to see your +1’s on to begin with!

    • Alan Switzer says

      Woops – meant that the person who’s post was +1’d was already in your circles. (The person who’s +1 is being promoted was also in your circles I believe.)

  22. Jenna Christopherson says

    O. M. G. So, here’s what I have to say. I only learned about this when I saw a post in my main stream (home?) which I am not sure would have shown up otherwise. I am unsure how to organize my circles and have given up on trying to figure them out… Which, according to this article, I will have to not only figure out, but will have to learn to use them well.
    To me, Google+ is like Facebook, only smarter. Sometimes, I feel it is too smart for me to use!
    Now, I have to learn this as well as marketing my books, Thanks! :-/

    • Alan Switzer says

      That shuts done what you see in your home stream. It doesn’t stop your +1s from being seen by others. I still don’t get the uproar about this change. It’s as if people are saying “I want to be able to do what I want to do in a public post, but I want what I do in a public post to remain private.”

      Folks, this ain’t Facebook. YOU have control over what others see. If you’re concerned about your privacy, keep this in mind and don’t post to “public”, and don’t comment or +1 posts that are public. Your +1 activity in public posts (or posts to circles of which you are a member) were always open for others to see anyway. Yeah, yeah, I know…. people had to stumble on it, or search for, but it was always there for anyone to see.

      G+ regulars and “experts” are reporting now that these shared +1’s seem to have a few things in common:

      1) People who are more active on G+ see less of them as a percentage of total posts in their home streams. (Maybe G+ is trying to encourage those who are less active to discover new connections, and to overcome that “G+ is a ghost town” line that circulates”).

      2) Shared +1s seem to be come most frequently from people who users tend to interact with more frequently — i.e. from people who’s posts they already +1, or from people on who’s posts you tend to comment on. Again, G+ seems to be saying “you interact a lot with this person — here’s something they found worth a +1”.

      3) You won’t see a +1’d post that you couldn’t have seen to begin with. This feature respects the existing privacy logic in G+

      Finally, if it really, really annoys you, then avoid your home stream and go through your streams circle by circle. The streams by circle are pretty free of other noise. G+ has given us the ability to view our posts in this manner in order to focus on the people in them. If it really eats away at you then simply a) turn off sharing your +1s and b) read streams circle by circle.

  23. Peter Duncan says

    I think Google should take it one step further and let the user decide what to +1 to the public or keep private. I often use +1 for bookmarking.
    From an SEO perspective I think it’s great – we need to get more engagement happening and as some say these are the new back links.
    I think if they keep working on this area you should start seeing more optimisation in your streams to get exactly what you want, in terms of the quality level you’re looking for.

  24. Karen says

    I was a huge fan but I’m afraid of Google+ now. I had created a private event (a monthly martini night with a group of women friends) and somehow a guy with a scary/violent handle got into that event and started +1-ing and RSVPing. I triple-checked the privacy settings so I have no idea how he could have gotten in, but I moved the event to Facebook right away.

    You say “It’s also important to note that privacy will still be maintained on +1′d posts as only those the post was originally shared with will be able to see the +1 activity. So if the original post you +1′d was shared privately, nobody who didn’t already have access to it can see your activity on it.” So wouldn’t the fact that it was a private event have prevented the creepy guy from getting in?

  25. ale says

    Ok, so I have a doubt that gnaws inside me.

    You can set your privacy settings only for +1 inside google (like you explain here but for your +1 on non-Google sites, who appear in the +1 tab next to About me, Posts, Pictures, etc., you only have two options, Public or Private, right?

    It’s a shame, I’d like to share these +1 only with my extended circles.

  26. Ellen says

    Are the plus one counts always accurate? because my blog only has like 4 followers yet 3 of the posts have 450,000 plus ones… also, all three have almost exactly the same number! I’m concerned of some kind of hacking issue. Could you help?

  27. Bhikkhu Subhuti says

    I cannot figure out how to see my own plus one history of other people’s posts in google plus. I only see plus ones from external websites (2 to date). There are many posts. How do I find them and undo them too?

      • Bhikkhu Subhuti says

        I guess I will do what was up above. Shut off sharing of plus 1 and reshare what I want to reshare.
        I can see my plus 1 in the stream and uncheck them. It is too bad we cannot unlike them and see our history. It would be good to have and is logical.
        I guess for bookmarking, I can reshare privately to myself.
        There was something I saw about getting plus ones from my account by giving a google command with my profile id.
        I did that and started downloading a bin file…?? Not sure what that was supposed to do!

        It looks like you know what can and cannot be done. Thanks for your help and fast response!
        It saves me much time.

  28. mens heatlh says

    Asking questions are in fact good thing if you are not understanding something entirely, except this paragraph offers fastidious understanding yet.

  29. says

    Personnaly I find +1s useful and would like to use them more. I regard them as a sort of second degree of sharing (after doing a Google+ post, or a blog post, about a link). Sadly, other than in a search, they are only published on one tab of my Google+ profile. Is there a way I can have the RSS feed or something of my +1s, to be able to add them on my personal blog as I already did for my G+ public posts? Thanks in advance for any reply.

  30. lightofmoths says

    When trying to view my own +1’s on my +1 tab, I am not able to see them. I have used that feature here and there, so I am absolutely sure that I should be able to see something. There seems to be nothing there.

    Does anyone know why this is happening and how I can make my +1’s on my tab show up? It doesn’t show up when I view it, from my profile. This isn’t on public view, this is on “Yourself” view.

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