Google is in the process of making another push into the social media realm. The new featured is called “+1” and it is oddly similar to Facebook’s “Like” button. The difference and maybe benefit of Google’s feature is that it will be integrated directly into the world’s largest search engine.
Starting today, users who opt into the +1 button experiment in Google Labs will start seeing the +1 icon next to each link in Google search results. You will be able to promote a website, similarly to StumbleUpon or Digg, by clicking the +1 button. By clicking the button, users will be able to recommend links to their list of Gmail chat buddies and those in their Gmail “My Contacts” group. Google claims this feature will be a “public stamp of approval” and builds upon a number of other social media features that Google introduced earlier this year. In my opinion, as long as +1 doesn’t turn out like Google Buzz, it has a chance to work.
Beyond showing up in search results, Google plans to offer a similar function of the Facebook “Like” button on websites. Website visitors will be able to like pages and they will be saved to their Google Profile. Google has one added benefit over Facebook, it can use the data from +1 buttons to influence website rankings on their search engine. This button should also help Google eliminate content farms, as their content is less likely to be shared. In another twist, the +1 button will be added to Paid Search Ads but who is honestly going to “+1″ a text ad?
When will we start seeing the +1s?
Not for a few months, at least not on a global level. Those who are interested in experimenting with +1 right away can go to Google.com/experimental. Otherwise only a “very small percentage” of searches and sites will have the +1 button within the next few weeks.