Google Plus One Rivals Facebook Like Button

Google just unveiled its own version of the Facebook “Like” button that has been making its way onto websites all over the Internet. Called +1 (and pronounced “plus one”), the new button adds a social layer to search results and search-related ads.

Currently available only to a limited number of Google search users on in the United States searching in English, the +1 button shows up next to search listing when users are logged in. If you really want to see it, you can visit Google Experimental ( and force it to show up. When you click the +1 button next to a search result, the button lights up and the result is shared with your social network.

If you’re asking “which social network?” you’re not alone. With this feature, Google has created a new social network of sorts – a +1 social network, which is distinct from your Google Social Search network or any other social network to which you might belong. Your +1 social network includes people in your Gmail and Google Talk chat list; people in your “My Contacts” group in Google Contacts; and people you follow in Google Reader or Google Buzz. Google says it plans in the future to include people you’re connected to through non-Google services, such as Flickr.

When you’re logged in to Google, results that have been +1’d by you or anyone in your +1 social network get enhanced. You can also undo any +1s that you’ve given. Additionally, you’ll see how many +1s a result has received, even if none of them came from your own network.

If you use AdWords, here’s something you’ll want to know: +1 buttons will start showing up next to your ads. You won’t be able to turn them off, but you won’t be charged when users click on the +1 button next to an ad. You will, however, receive stats that tell you which ads receive the most +1s. Google notes that in tests, ads that receive more +1s also seem to receive more click-throughs. Likewise, if your website is registered with Google Webmaster Central, you’ll soon be able to see +1 stats for your organic search listings.

Furthermore, in the coming months, Google has said that website publishers will be able to put +1 buttons on their own websites – yes, right next to the Facebook “like” buttons and the Twitter “tweet” buttons. While Google hasn’t been too forthcoming with the details on how this will work, they did note that if someone clicks a +1 button on a web page, that information will be seen by others who view the page’s listing in the search results. That should certainly help to get Google’s +1 button widely adopted.

The +1 button will give Google yet another metric to examine as it tweaks its algorithm to deliver more relevant results. It might also help Google to slowly build its own social networking service – something it has so far been less than successful in doing. At this point, though, it remains to be seen whether Facebook should be worried.

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