Google today announced its version of the Facebook "Like" button, a search results tool called "+1." And as much as it appears to be a copycat of something that's already popular, Google's biggest selling point for this feature may be the ability to filter search results into something more manageable.
And, of course, at the end of the day, search is still the one place where Google dominates. Enhancing search to make the results more relevant is central to Google's business DNA. It's important to note because bloggers like me will be quick to compare +1 to the Like button - a fair, albeit incomplete, comparison.
Here's Google's explanation on how it works, from its blog post:
Today we’re taking that a step further, enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results. It’s called +1 - the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results.
Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, Calif. When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate. And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop.
I especially like how Google is trying to turn "+1" into a verb, the way the term "Google" (as in "I'll just Google it") has become synonymous with search. Will +1 take off? Maybe - but not right away. A few reasons behind my reasoning:
Google's answer to the "Like" button is a good move - but it would have been better if it had been rolled out as a button on individual web pages, instead of on the results pages. Given all of the other enhancements that Google has done to get Web searchers out of the results page and into the sites they're seeking out, it doesn't seem that users will really get to know +1 right away - especially well enough to start using it as a verb.
Here's one of Google's famous video explainers on how the tool works: