Google’s latest major feature, the +1 button, is Google’s attempt at rivaling, and potentially improving upon, the Facebook “like” button. Its functionality is extremely similar to Facebook’s “like” option in that it allows users to “+1″ links and ads that come up through Google’s search engine. Google will also soon be enabling the +1 button to be placed on websites across the internet.
The stated purpose behind Google’s +1 is to allow users to save their favorite items and sites, along with sharing recommendations with their family and friends. In order to utilize the +1 button, users will need to have a Google account. Once that account is setup, Google will then utilize everyone listed in the user’s Google Contacts, Gmail and Google Talk chat lists and everyone the user is following in Google Buzz and Google Reader to deliver recommendations to the user. Users will have the option to shut off recommendations, but Google is making a concentrated effort to place an emphasis on the importance of enabling +1 recommendations from contacts.
Users who have all of the standard settings in place will see the +1 symbol, along with the name of their contact who clicked the button, next to all applicable sites and ads in Google search and, when the +1 button is enabled for websites, on sites across the internet. Google is marketing this functionality as a built in recommendation system that allows users to receive easy advice on an endless number of topics from their friends and family. Of course the only way this will work in the way that Google intends is if the user has a wide pool of contacts who are utilizing the +1 feature.
Aside from the ability to give and receive recommendations, the +1 button also creates a specialized page on the user’s Google profile which saves every site, search result and ad that the user has clicked +1 on. This list will make it simple for the user to access all of their favorite items and, if they opt in, will also allow them to make the complete list public via their Google profile. Much like the “likes” section of a Facebook profile, this page will enable others to quickly learn about others interests. Those with common interests will be able to easily find new content to view on the internet by simply perusing each other’s list of +1′s.
Due to Google’s standing as the number one most visited site on the internet, the +1 button has the potential to have a huge impact on the internet as a whole. More internet users utilize Google than Facebook on a daily basis, including those who have no interest in social networking. If Google is able to get those users engaged with the +1 concept then the face of the internet will definitely change as +1 recommendations will be seen on site’s that social networking sites have not been able to infiltrate.
So what does all of this mean for those who run websites and advertise products on Google? There’s an obvious potential benefit to having a product or site recommended to others who may not have found it on their own. What remains to be seen is what type of an impact the +1 button will have on small business owners. If the +1 feature recommends sites and ads to users based on the number of +’s they have, this could have a negative impact on sites that receive less daily traffic. Google has addressed this concern, however, stating that they will be monitoring the situation to ensure that smaller sites don’t get buried.
In the near future websites will have wide access to the +1 button. Expect to see it added to the majority of your favorite sites right next to the Facebook and Twitter buttons. By enabling this option across the web Google accomplishes a few different goals; it will enable users to recommend and save a wider array of items which feeds into the original purpose but it also engages users who are already comfortable with social networking with a format they are familiar with and used to using. Google’s hope is that this will assist them in receiving increased interest in the +1 button. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not the average social networking user will be accepting of another online social tool, especially one that does not allow them to share comments and photos with their family and friends.
Google is placing a lot of importance on the +1 button because they anticipate it becoming a game changer for SEO. If this begins to happen then websites across the internet, regardless of their content, will likely hustle to catch up by driving their users to click the +1 button. Google is the number one search engine in the world and proper SEO is a major marketing focus of the vast majority of online businesses and miscellaneous websites. After all, a website with no traffic is a website that will not make its owner any money. Even sites which do not bring in any income battle for the bragging rights that come along with a top rated site.
Google’s launch of the +1 button has been slow to date so it’s difficult to determine yet just how influential it may actually become. As soon as it is made available to all websites the actual impact will become much clearer. Regardless of if you’re for or against the idea, if it does become popular it will have a noticeable impact on the internet and those who market their business online will need to be prepared to take full advantage of it.
By Zac Kenni
Zac Kenni is a senior writer from a trusted hosting reviews company. Webhostgear.com, provider of good quality webhosting reviews and rates hosting services through a collaboration of thorough research, data analysis, performance and user feedback. Helping people find the best hosting solution for their website needs through rating and giving outstanding reviews for different web hosting companies on the internet.