Among the names announced for Google’s rumored social network are “Google Me” and “Google+1.” Well, at the end of March Google announced that Google +1 is being launched. However, while the utility is social in nature, this certainly isn’t Google’s shot at a service that can compete with Facebook. Rather, it’s a simple button that allows users to indicate which sites they found to be useful.
The easiest comparison to make is with Bing’s current “like” option for pages (integrated with Facebook). The new “+1” button will appear in much the same location and serve a similar function: letting others connected to you know that you found the site useful. The end goal is to make the search results more social, allowing you to see results that have been +1’d by others like you.
But how does Google determine which users really are “like you”? The first method used is examining similar interests. If you +1 nine sites and another user also +1s those nine sites, a tenth site on the same category +1’d by that other user is likely to be of interest to you. However, Google also assures us that they will be adding a more integrated social structure, where connections on Twitter and other similar sites would also be used to help find appropriate pages. Should Google ever release a full-fledged social service, it would almost certainly be integrated as well.
+1, especially when combined with the new option to block sites, is also a service that adds a level of human curation to the search results. This may help address issues of spam that have become so central to focus lately, although exactly how much impact +1 will have depends on how strong its impact is on general SERP placement.
The +1 button is available now on the experimental search site, and will be propogated to the main site once some initial testing has been completed. Other +1 services, including buttons for webmasters to add to their site (allowing +1ing past the search page), are also being released.
[via the Google Retail Blog]