In its most recent attempt to make search more social, Google has unveiled the +1 button (plus one button).
Basically, the new feature allows users to recommend search results they find useful to their contacts from Gmail and other Google services when those particular people are searching for something similar. By clicking the button, you’re telling people it’s something they should check out. Depending on the success of the +1 button, there is the potential for it to have an impact on site rankings, as those which have been recommended by someone in your social circle would gain prominence over results which haven’t been endorsed. The +1 button will also let people recommend text ads appearing next to ordinary search results. The social feature isn’t meant to change Google’s search algorithm, which ranks sites based on how relevant they are to a user’s search, but will instead complement them.
Why is this Important?
Beyond the obvious benefit of having your site recommended and appearing above similar sites, which aren’t; the +1 button (in theory) has the ability to greatly influence decisions being made while searching. As we all know, recommendations, especially from people we know and trust, play an important role in our decision making process. Since endorsements from people in your social circle are more powerful than messages from advertisers, there is a greater chance an ad or link appearing in search results will be clicked on if its been endorsed.
Similar to Facebook’s ‘like’ button, users will be able to ‘+1’ a result from the search page or on any site that installs the button to allow users to recommend to their friends.
Only users with Google accounts who are signed in will be able to use the +1 button.
Unlike Facebook’s Like button, your Google contacts won’t receive an email or status update about your activity, but will instead see the reccommendation when they are actively searching for something you’ve recommended.
The +1 feature will first be introduced in search results and then to web pages.
Google doesn’t exactly have a great success record when it comes to social efforts, so it will be interesting to see how their latest attempt turns out.
What about you? Do you think this is useful and has the potential to catch on?