Google's +1 Experiment Adds Social Recommendations to Search

Google Now Goes to +1 Google now goes to +1.

Three weeks ago, Google announced the +1 button, an experiment that they hope incorporates social recommendations with search results. Since then, a portion of Google users have begun to see a +1 button next to their search results when logged into their Google accounts. If you don’t see it immediately, visit the Search Experiments section of Google Labs and enable this option.

The +1 button allows you to inform other people in your network about a website you like by simply clicking a button. It works a lot like Facebook’s “Like Button,” but it does a little more. The +1 Button also influences how these sites show up in others’ search results. Plus, users can always undo a +1 if they didn’t mean to flag the site.

Google +1 Button in Search Results The +1 button appears to the right of the search result title. Here you
can see the +1 icon as it appears after you recommend a link.

The +1 button is still in an experimental stage. If you don’t see it on Google automatically, sign in to your Google account, visit Google Search Experiments. Select the +1 button as your Google experiment.

Now visit Google and search for something. Click the +1 button, and you will see a confirmation screen (like the one below), which requires you to opt into the service.

View Your +1’s

After you have joined, you will be able to control all the pages you +1’d on a “+1’s” tab from within your Google profile. You do have the option to make this tab public through your Google profile, or keep this information private (default).

Google lists your +1's in an archive, so you can see what you've recommended.

Combining Search Results with Recommendations

Google stated in their announcement, “The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).” Google understands people use recommendations and reviews as part of their decision making on a daily basis; reviewing restaurants, purchasing TVs, cars, computers, cell phones, etc.

Social Networking

Google currently highlights who in your social network has previously tweeted a link that appears in a search result. Google currently highlights who in your social network has previously tweeted a link that appears in a search result.

Google has been experimenting with bringing social media into search for the last couple years; allowing users to merge Google services (Buzz and Chat) with third party sites, like Twitter and Facebook.

Google currently displays results from third-party social media sites; for example, if one of your Twitter friends has tweeted a link, that is shown in search results.

For the time being, only users you are connected with through Google services will be the only ones that can influence the +1 matches. These Google based services include:

  • Your Gmail chat list
  • Your "My Contacts" group in Google Contacts
  • People you follow in Google Reader or Google Buzz

Whats Next?

Google has plans to allow publishers to place +1 buttons on web pages, similar to Facebook’s Like button and Twitter’s Tweet button. To be notified about when this button is available, sign up here.

Once proven and optimized, the +1 button could be a great addition to search and a major “plus” when trying to incorporate social media into the bigger SEO picture, if done correctly. One of the biggest obstacles for Google is going to be developing a large user base that users adapt to and use. This is where Facebook’s Like button has a distinct advantage; they already have a massive network of users. Will those users want to sign up for another social account that they have to create and manage? It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this plays out.