Google's +1 Button: Will it Add to Your Search Experience?

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Google+1 button Google announced the +1 button, describing it as a recommendation system for search. Google said, "Your +1's can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search."

The friends and contacts Google is talking about are contacts connected through your Google Profile. Anyone with access to your Google profile would see you mentioned by name as having +1-d something. The others are everyone on the Internet who might see that you +1-d something in an anonymous way, for example as part of a total count of +1's related to a link or page. You could see results of +1's on sites that you were not socially connected to displayed as totals.

The Official Google Blog provides the Google-connection-caveat in more detail:

To get started +1’ing the stuff you like, you’ll need to create a Google profile—or if you already have one, upgrade it. You can use your profile to see all of your +1’s in one place, and delete those you no longer want to recommend. To see +1’s in your Google search results you’ll need to be logged into your Google Account.

The Official Google Blog touts the fact that you get recommendations right when you need them -- in search results (including ads).

Here's Google's introductory video.

Soon you will be able to put a +1 button on a web page, where you probably already have a Like button, a Tweet button, and a Share button.

You'd put it with your existing Like, Tweet and Share button because it's doing somewhat the same thing -- filtered through your Google Profile. Many were quick to point out the resemblance to the Like button. For example, Google’s Answer to the Facebook “Like” Button: The “+1”, With +1, Google really, really wants to be your friend, and Google +1: it's like Facebook Likes.

Corvida Raven at SheGeeks points out a significant difference between +1, Like, and Retweet buttons.

In your Google Profile, you’ll see a +1 tab that records of all your recommendations. This one section does something that Facebook likes nor Twitter retweets offer to users: a history of your interactions.
Corvida Raven's Google profile showing her +1s

Later in her post, Corvida adds,

I have to agree with Gina Trapani’s tweet:

“I don’t see myself curating search results much. By the time I know a result is good, I’ve left. What about you?“

It sounds almost absurd to do so when you could just as easily tweet or like it and share that recommendation with your friends all the same. I want to stress that the +1 tab on Google Profile’s could make a difference, but then again, who really visits their Google profile?

Maybe the point isn't to get you to look at your Google Profile, but to make sure you have a Google Profile. Jolie O'Dell follows the money at Mashable in What Google's +1 Means for Facebook.

Facebook profiles are more or less de rigeur for anyone with an Internet connection. Meanwhile, Google Profiles — and most of Google’s other social products, such as Hotpot and Buzz –have mostly remained in the rarefied domain of the digerati.

Making a Google Profile a requirement for those addictive little +1 buttons is a smart move on Google’s part. It may not match Facebook’s 500 million-strong membership when the feature rolls out to all users, but it has a good shot at vastly increasing levels of profile adoption.

The +1 stamp of approval is not merely social. We're talking search and ads here. Mashable interviewed Google's Jim Prosser for Everything You Need to Know about Google's +1.

Why is Google doing this?
Aside from the fact that it represents another way to compete with Facebook, Google’s official line is that it will make search results more germane. Says Prosser: “People consult their friends and other contacts on decisions. It’s very easy and lightweight way to make search results more relevant.”

Will the number of +1s affect search rankings?
Prosser says no, but adds that it’s something Google is “very interested” in incorporating in some form at some point.

Even though +1 doesn't affect search rankings now, it might be used in future search rankings. That will be important to watch.

We won't begin seeing +1 buttons everywhere immediately. You can check it out at Google Experimental Search if you want an early go at using it. You can sign up to be notified when +1 buttons are available for your website.

I'm willing to predict that one of the new terms that explode into the Internet scene for 2011 is going to be +1-ed. Beyond that, I'm not willing to venture into how successful Google will be with it's latest attempt to add a social component onto search. Do you think this will be something of value to you?

Related Links

Virginia DeBolt writes about web design education and web technology at Web Teacher and creates a daily writing prompt at First 50 Words.


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