Google just launched Google +1, a “like” button for its search results pages and ads. This new feature will allow users to share sites right from within the search results page. These sites will then be shared with a user’s social circle on Google and publicly, on their newly enhanced public Google Profile pages. This new feature will roll out slowly to all users, but to start using it today, just head over to Google Labs and activate the “+1 button.”
By default, all +1’s (as Google calls them), are public and will appear “in Google search results, on ads, and sites across the web.” The first time you use the button, Google will take you to a page explaining that you can use the +1 feature to “recommend things to the world” and gives you the option to consent to Google using your “information to personalize content and ads across the web.”
Soon, Search Engine Land reports, Google will also roll out +1 buttons for websites, which will put Google into direct competition with Facebook and Twitter, though, as I will explain below, I think this feature needs some work before user will rally around it.
Google’s video explains how this works in a bit more detail:
Where Do Your +1’s Go?
I doubt that a lot of people are checking out their friends’ Google profiles and the +1’s don’t even appear on Buzz, Google’s ailing FriendFeed clone, or anywhere else on the web. This makes +1 a bit different from other “like” buttons on the Web, as your +1’s will mainly be seen on search results pages. They will, after all, appear as part of Google’s Social Search feature, meaning you will see when a friend has +1’d a result on the search results page.
Also interesting, Google will show how many people across the web have +1’d a page, too (though it’s not clear if this will be shown on every result). This adds a certain degree of social relevance to search results that was missing until now.
For Google, this looks like a smart move, as it will get more direct social signals to work with. The company already said that it will look at how it can use +1’s as a ranking signal for its search results.
A Competitor for Facebook “Likes”? Probably Not
I do not quite see this as a real competitor to Facebook “like,” however. People don’t think about their search results as the place for recommendations. To really recommend something to your friends, Facebook is the better place. Unless Google starts syndicating these +1’s to other places, I’m not sure users will see the utility in using this feature over all the other buttons on the Internet today (and why anybody would want to +1 an ad is beyond me, to be honest…)