Earlier this afternoon, news emerged that Google would be pushing further into the social search market with its new +1 product.
Starting today, users who have a Google Profile can opt into the “experimental” search experience. The +1 feature works nearly identically to Facebook’s “Like” button: simply click the +1 next to the link you want to recommend. Clicking the +1 button results in an instant association “in search, on ads, and across the web” and is included on your Google Profile. (In a slight twist, you will also be able to +1 ads!)
Friends and contacts you have stored in Google will be able to see these associations. In any search results page, you will not see a list or even a number of all the people who have clicked the +1. Only the contacts you have stored with Google will be able to see what you have recommended and your identity.
Very recently, Google has taken massive steps to improve the personalization of search results. Earlier this year, Google introduced the ability to see links that have been posted by Twitter friends, see search results from Flickr, and access discussions in Quora.
The +1 feature will certainly have a substantial impact on the way we search and find relevant content. +1 will have a direct impact on its market share, Google says. Users are unlikely to click on links that may be spam or content farms and will likely recommend pages that have useful or valuable content. It is unknown whether or not Google will use +1 results to create crowdsourced approvals for pages that have a rich supply of +1’s.
While many of Google’s social projects have been phenomenal flops (think Google Wave or Google Buzz), this new feature looks promising for the future of social searching.