Our recent post about the Facebook Like button touched on how social networking and search engine results are becoming more and more related to one another. Google has now created its own rival to the Like button, which it calls the “+1” button. This new Google feature allows you to “+1″ (plus one) any Google search results or ads that you like. And to truly rival the Like button, Google plans on making this button available to place on websites in the next upcoming months.

If you are logged into you Google account, go ahead and search for something. You will see a +1 button to the right of each search result listing. After clicking on this button, you’ve “+1′d” it, giving it your stamp of approval. You have also made your support visible to anyone within your Google social network (that is, people in your Gmail and Google Talk chat list, people in your Google Contacts, and people that you follow in Google Reader or Google Buzz). Everyone within this network will be able to see what you have +1’d and, likewise, they can see what you have +1’d as well. Clicked the +1 button by mistake or changed your mind about a site? Google gives you the option to undo your +1 if you so choose.


+1’d Websites Your Friends Love, At Your Disposal

Your search results are greatly affected if your friends within your Google social network have +1’d pages that fall within what you are searching for. When you search for something while logged into your Google account, any results that you’ve +1′d — or which have been +1′d by those in your network — will rank superior to other search results:

In the above example, look at the names listed under the search result. The two names are two members of the searcher’s Google network, in addition to the 16 others within their network who also like it. Google also will show the amount of +1’s if a search result has gained a large amount but not from people in your network (however, Google will withhold the names of these individuals, just revealing the quantity of +1’s). This allows the search to understand how admired or relevant the page may be for +1 users.


There are some definite benefits to this new Google feature. If you’re searching, it’s nice to see if there are any answers that are recommended by your friends. Google anticipates that advertisers will love this, expecting click-through rates on +1′d advertisements to go up, assuming that less people will accidentally click an ad’s link (costing the advertiser money) but rather click the +1 button. All ads will have these buttons, and there is no way for the advertiser to turn this feature off. However, the button does not cost as a paid ad click in the advertiser’s PPC campaign. The button can also help advertisers they can see which of their ad campaigns are the most popular (whichever have the most +1’s). For organic search results, anyone registered in Google Webmaster Central will be able to see +1 statistics for their non-paid or “organic” search listings. Google expects that soon, there will be a Google +1 button for websites, that will sit right next to your site’s Like button and Tweet button.


So what hasn’t Google thought of, at this point? Well, what’s missing in the +1 button is some connection to the people you are connected to via non-Google services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Linkedin. That’s something that will come in the future, Google says.