Google Gets a Like Button: Users Can Recommend Search Results With +1
Google today will start rolling out a social search feature it is calling +1. The product is much more limited than sharing tools from other services like Facebook, Twitter and Delicious, but since it will influence Google search results, it’s significant.
The basic +1 function allows users to recommend a Web page by clicking on a small +1 button next to search results. These votes are aggregated globally, but logged-in users will see the pictures and names of their connections who have “+1′ed” a link.
Just as with Facebook’s “like” button, all +1′s are public. But +1 doesn’t have the social feedback you might get by sharing a link on Facebook or Twitter, or the option to annotate links with your comments.
This is only rolling out gradually, though users can opt in to try +1 at www.google.com/experimental. It’s part of a larger effort to get Google users to start maintaining their Google Profiles–which are obviously key to the grand Google social plan.
For now, users can choose to make their +1′s available as a tab on their Google Profile, but there’s no activity stream that brings together friends’ likes.
Another limitation: right now +1 is only for users’ connections on Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Reader and Google Buzz. Support for connections on other services like Twitter is “coming soon.”
Yet another feature coming soon: +1 buttons for publishers, which they can add alongside the other colorful doodads for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, and perhaps even Google Buzz.
One feature that’s ready at launch is +1 for ads, a highly unusual move in Silicon Valley where monetization is usually relegated to a lower priority. +1 buttons will appear next to Google ads and show which users have clicked on them, just like +1 for search. Advertisers don’t have to pay for the feature but will get reporting on how many +1s they get.
Google already has multiple social search features currently rolled out, and has experimented with users voting on search results in the past through tools like Google SearchWiki (which is no longer available).