Google Search Goes Social: +1 Button to Challenge Facebook’s Like Button

The Google’s war against Facebook (and other social networking sites) seems to be at its peak. In an attempt to make it’s search more social, Google expanded its social offerings with “+1 button” – a feature that enables users to recommend certain Web sites with the click of a button, much like you might “like” something on Facebook. The new plus one button will appear next to search results and advertisements [Google ads aka Adsense ads that appear on Google SERP]. Clicking on the + 1  button will allow users’ friends as well as strangers to see what they liked.

Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, Calif.,” wrote Rob Spiro, a Google product manager, in a blog post. “When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate.”

Clearly, the “social search” effort, dubbed “+1” or “plus one,” could very well change the way that some people use Google’s search engine. When a user looks at Google.com search results (and is signed into his Google Account), a +1 Button will show up right next to a link, beside the current magnifying glass icon used for Google’s Instant Previews feature.

And how does this affect a site’s current Google rank? One of the eventual aims of the project is to reorder search results so that sites that users find more useful appear higher in results, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Cutts said he is “excited” about the possibility of using +1 recommendations “as a signal in our rankings.”

Google Search +1 Button Video Demo

Google is currently rolling the +1 Button out to a very small number of “select” users, but soon users will be able to opt in, through Google’s experimental search site. Initially, +1’s will appear alongside search results and ads, but in the weeks ahead they’ll appear in many more places (including other Google products and sites across the web).

This is another signal that Google is taking social networking very seriously. With companies like Facebook increasingly becoming a strong contender for users’ attention, as well as for ad dollars, Google needs to have a strong social presence and the advent of + 1  button will pave the way for more sociability on the part of the search engine giant.

The concept of +1 button is far better designed than the failed Buzz experiment; in a way that it could possibly bring a viral element to search advertising. But knowing how most earlier Google’s attempts to get users to interact directly with its search results pages had failed, only time will tell if this actually becomes popular. Fingers crossed!

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