Google has launched its +1 button, a new feature that lets users recommend the links they find. Could this be the "social" element that Google has been in search of for some time?
Google's +1 button is being compared to Facebook's "Like" buttons and Twitter's re-tweet and Google suggests that you use it to convey:
"this is something you should check out".
For now is confined to the links that appear as search results but is planned to spread across the web.
Google's own introduction to +1 concludes:
The Web's a big place - sometimes it help's to have a tour guide. So if you think something's cool +1
If you want to see the full "promo" video then check it out now - but be warned it is thin on information and very cheesy:
It is currently an experimental feature and if you want to join in then you need to go to http://www.google.com/experimental/ and turn on the feature. It also only works if you search using Google.com regional versions of everyone's favourite search engines don't support the experimental version. You also have to be signed into your Google account because this is the identity used to collate and control your +1 data. It also has to have a public profile defined as this is used to display who made the recommendation.
As long as everything is working you shold see a +1 button next to each search result and if you click then a dialog box pops-up that allows you to customise the recommendation. You can opt to be anonymous when the fact that you have +1'd an item appears next to a search result or an Adwords advert.
(Click to enlarge)
When you next view the search item it has a line indicating that you +1'd it. You can also see recommendations from other people. How this will be managed when millions of users have started to make recommendations is an interesting question. Google simply says that it can show your public profile as part of the recommendation. You can view and edit your complete set of recommendations at any time via your Google profile. Clearly if the +1 button catches on users are going to have another reason to sign up to Google.
Google also reserves the right to process and present data based your and other peoples recommendations. Clearly +1 recommendations, should they catch on are going to be a very valuable source of information too Google. Later they plan to allow websites to add a +1 button so that users can recommend a website without having to wait for it to turn up in a search or an Adwords advert. This, at last, puts Google up there with Facebook, Twitter and other recommend buttons - it makes you wonder why they have taken so long to think of it.