March 30, 2011

Google's +1 Is For Much More than Just Search Results

This morning, Google is introducing a new feature within the company's search results aiming to provide social recommendations to one's extended connections. The +1 feature lets you tag results and Web sites you find valuable with the expectation that friends of yours see your +1 and can take that into account when making a follow-up decisions. At first glimpse, this doesn't appear to be too dramatically different than previous attempts to show intent, with starring results, social search and other methods, but one can see where +1 is landing to hint at the future of the program.

In the company's introductory blog post today, Google talks about sharing recommendations with the world. The idea is that if you find a result you like in search, just hit +1. Theoretically, follow-on searchers will see the right recommendations at the right time in the right format.

A +1 Next to Popeye's Fried Chicken

So who are your friends and how do they see your inputs? Well, for starters, they are looking at those people in your Google social graph, including chat friends and contacts. The company hints at using connections from Twitter as well, notably excluding Facebook, who hasn't historically wanted to play nice with Google in sharing data. The +1 data is also closely tied to your Google Profile, which is a sibling to Google Buzz, which also has following and friend-like attributes.

My +1s Are Displayed on My Google Profile

The introductory video for +1, almost a minute through says:
"Soon you'll be able to +1 more than just search results. You'll also find the +1 button on sites across the Web, making it easy to +1 pages after you've visited them. The Web's a big place. Sometimes it helps to have a tour guide."
This makes it sound more like a Delicious-style bookmarking tool (outwardly facing) than a RT-style Twitter endorsement. So where do these +1's go? Well, they're immediately posted to your Google profile, in a tab that you can make private or public. Says the dedicated site: "Your +1’s are stored in a new tab on your Google profile. You can show your +1’s tab to the world, or keep it private and just use it to personally manage the ever-expanding record of things you love around the web."

You can start seeing the +1 button on Google search results now by signing in to the search experiment in Google Labs. More detail on the +1 button is now available on a dedicated microsite. I would assume we might start seeing "+1" buttons all over sites that want to get more Google juice from social recommendations soon.

You can find all my +1s here: