With Facebook Like buttons scattered across the web, Google has created a new and exciting product in an attempt to fire back at Facebook’s success: the +1 button. The button launched late last week as an extension of Google’s search engine, giving you the ability to “+1” search results and ads that you like. In the foreseeable future you will also be able to like websites and content.
+1 is meant to compliment Social Search, a feature that will help Google personalize the way it presents search results. It’s hard to say if there will be integration with Google Hotpot and Places, however as +1 buttons roll out to websites we could see social relevance playing a bigger role.
The +1 button will be present next to each Google search result, the idea being if you like the result, you click the +1 button, which not only will ‘bookmark’ the page in your Google profile, but it will be shared with your social circle and the public, as well.
As mentioned above, the +1 button also applied to ads displayed around Google’s search results. If you think one of your friends may find the ad useful, you would click the +1 button to share it with them. It may seem unlikely that people will go around clicking the button near the ads, but because the ads are connected to an indexed page, if someone +1’s the page in search, it will also appear +1’d next to the ad.
It’s also important to note that there’s a big difference between +1 and Facebook’s Like button – all +1 data is public. One major function of +1 is to share results throughout your social graph; however that data will also be used to improve the quality of Google’s search results for everyone. As an example, if friends have +1’d a page, you’re able to see that (much like the existing feature in Social Search). The difference is that you’re also able to see people who have +1’d a page even if they’re outside of your social circle.
The new Google profiles also have a new +1 tab that will track all websites you’ve +1’d and present them in a list. You have the ability to remove any result you don’t want to be publically displayed, or if you don’t want to indicate that you like it publically. When adding +1 to your profile, you’ll have the option to opt-in (for now) and you’ll also notice a check box allowing you to opt out, restricting the way Google uses your +1 information to present personalized content and ads across the web.
As mentioned above, you’ll be able to +1 any ad you may find relevant to friends. This is sort of like the approach Twitter took with their Promoted Tweets, as well as the way you can Like ads on Facebook.
Google has essentially created social ads, but not only on search results pages, but throughout their entire display network. Any site that is running AdSense ads will feature +1 data along with the ad. This is an integrated system, no action is required by advertisers. It’s also nice to note that +1 data will not affect bidding, however +1 data will now be available in reports.
The bottom line is that Google needs to remain competitive and the integration of Social Search was only the first step. Google is now taking measures to make its own content more social, from gmail to Hotpot, and Google will also focus on integrating additional content into its system through the future release of a +1 button for publishers, which will work similarly to Facebook’s Like button, giving users the ability to recommend the page on Google’s search without requiring the user to leave the site. If you would like to be notified when the +1 button is available for your website, you can sign up to receive email updates from Google’s +1 webmaster site.
Google may be rolling +1 out slowly, but this is a massive feature that Google is taking very seriously. If you consider the competition, Facebook has effectively eliminated spam and can segment data into geographically, demographically, and even personally. This is huge.
There’s a big experiment going on at the moment over at Blekko, it’s a Facebook Like powered search engine. With Blekko you have the ability to Connect your Facebook account, enter a search term, and see relevant results based on what your friends have Liked on Facebook. Not only will the data be fairly relevant, but it will also be spam free. People are constantly clicking and liking content and URLs on Facebook, if you can organize that data and present it relevantly, that’s power.
If you think about it from Google’s perspective, they would kill for that type of data. And not only from a competition perspective, but to remain relevant as the web moves forward – they don’t want to be left behind as search continues to evolve. Personalization is becoming huge when searching for services and products. Need a hotel recommendation? Ask a friend. How about a restaurant to take a hot new date? That information is available on Facebook.
This is why we’re seeing such a huge push with the social integration throughout Google products, especially with the announcement of +1. Google envisions +1 to hit all types of users, not limiting functionality to those logged into their Google accounts. If +1 sees wide adoption, this social data will be core of Google’s future search algorithm.
Want to try out the +1 feature for yourself? Check it out here and let us know what you think!