Check This Out: Google's Very Own "Like" Button

Google encroaches on social, with its new +1 feature.

Google +1 button

You click on stuff that your friends like. It's a simple enough fact, but it's tremendously important. It's the insight behind the Facebook "like" button, wherein you can share with your social network what links interest you. And it's the insight behind a new feature launched by Google today, something it's calling +1.

In a blog post today, Google explained how it was building on its recent decision to include information in your searches about whether your friends liked a given link (shared it on Twitter, for example). With +1, which Google's Rob Spiro calls "the digital shorthand for 'this is pretty cool,'" anyone with a Google account can now opt in to publicly endorsing websites they like.

Google introduced the new feature with a video. The web is a big place, it explains, and we could all use some friendly pointers to help us navigate it.

+1, of course, continues a longstanding tradition of the social web: the desecration of the English language. Now, on top of "friending" people and @mentioning them, we will now "plus one" things, as in, "Hey, did you see that great article on Fast Company?" "Oh yeah, I plus one'd that yesterday."

If you want to get on board with plus-one'ing things ASAP, go to Google Experimental Labs, here. Be aware that anything you click is public--shared with everyone in your social circle, as determined by Google (essentially, for now, your Google Contacts--people you chat and email with--though Google has suggested it may add Twitter contacts and others soon).

+1's aren't broadcast across Twitter or Facebook, it seems--rather, they'll pop up when your friends conduct Google searches. They'll also appear next to ads, and soon, on other Google-affiliated pages. Says Google: "Initially, +1’s will appear alongside search results and ads, but in the weeks ahead they’ll appear in many more places (including other Google products and sites across the web)."

What does Facebook think of all this, we wonder?

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Email David Zax, the author of this post.

Read More: Most Innovative Companies: Google and Facebook

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7 Comments

  • Manish R Hegde

    This is very scary. I live in a country where my google searches could land me and my organisation in a lot of trouble. I hope like hell this doesn't one day instantly wake up in google search all on its own like erm... google instant

  • A.J. Horst

    Google's starting to get nervous because it's search result quality has been deteriorating due to SEO companies and businesses abusing the back link system. They have people in third word countries create thousands of worthless blogs and articles with thousands of links back to the paying website.They also comment spam on thousands of "do follow" blogs with links containing a keyword the company is looking to rank high in search results.

    Google's results are getting more spammy by the day, and having the Wikipedia article at the top of the results isn't going to cut it anymore. One thing Google has going for them is the fact that their competitors copy the same Google algorithm (and possibly the results), so right now they don't have to worry about Bing or Yahoo.

    What they are worried about is people doing their searches on Facebook and Twitter. When others in their social circle are recommending articles on any particular topic, the results are going to be much more relevant and less spammy. I don't think Google's current fix is going to make things any better.

    I worried by the fact that Google hints they are going to use +1 to help with overall search results. The problem I see is that SEO companies will abuse that system and have a network of millions of bots (or people) click the +1 to manipulate the results. For the system to work, it needs to only effect one individuals results based on people that individual is connected with...this leads to the problem that Google doesn't have a social network with millions of people connected. Unless they can create such a network (its extremely difficult, they've tried before), this +1 system isn't going to be very effective.

    They'd probably be better off buying a company like Digg...or even take the plunge and make a multi-billion dollar Twitter acquisition.

    A.J. Horst
    President - 3Boost
    http://3boost.com/blog

  • Neil

    It is one thing to like a product or service. It is another thing that a product or service expresses enough symmetry to "remember" it. That's why ads don't work anymore. The only thing +1 does is dilute any influence the Facebook original had, if any. It like "sales," "discount," "buy 1 get 1 free." They have no influence on your ability to remember a brand because everybody says the same thing. When was the last time you heard someone say they forgot to buy some Mr. Clean? Even Britney Spears couldn't sell Coca-Cola!

  • Jatin Desai (www.desai.com)

    Google is obviously very scared of Facebook. Little too late and as Chris say, enough is enough. I have no desire to let Google know what I am searching on or care about what my friends are search for.

  • Steve Cichosz

    What a great way to put it Chris, "enough is enough." The notion of personal space is being so completely lost on the net that it is invading every aspect of our lives. Everything we say or do, from our network interactions and emails to our purchases and even the television shows we watch is not only being recorded, it is being played back to the masses. It's as if everyone of us is becoming some sort of zoo animal in a glass cage, "push button, get synthetic popularity treat."

    Compounding it all is that more and more we have to suffer the inane baseless numbers and counters plaguing sites in uncoordinated garish colors informing of of "likes", "retweets", now "+1's" and whatever other mindless button press has taken place.

  • Chris Fuller

    Kind of silly if you ask me, how often would any of my "friends" search for the same thing as me? I don't even have a GMail account. Besides, I'm getting overloaded with Likes, Tweets, ReTweets, etc...enough is enough.