Assuming this isn’t another elaborate April Fool’s joke, Google is taking another evolutionary step forward with its user search experience. Thanks to the heralded forthcoming addition of the so-called “+1″ button, Google is poised to fuse search results with social networking to an entirely new extent.
Already drawing widespread comparisons to Facebook’s “Like” button, Google’s “+1″ feature presents users with an opportunity to tell the world that particular search results are “pretty cool” and worth checking out.
Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages. That’s why we recently started to include more information from people you know — stuff they’ve shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites — in Google search results.
A Boon for Small Business
For the small business community, however, the advent of +1 presents what could ultimately manifest as another potentially invaluable marketing opportunity born of the most effective method of advertising available — word of mouth. Google, in fact, is already positioning +1 as the hottest new way to tip off your friends to the people, places, and things you believe they should know about.
The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).
One example provided by Google illustrates precisely how a small business could garner marketing exposure from the new tool. “The next time you’re trying to remember that bed and breakfast your buddy was raving about,” Google proposes, “a +1 could help you out.” Consequently, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that many businesses will soon be asking customers to “Like” their stores on Facebook and “+1″ them on Google.
Google’s Greater Goals
Google, of course, isn’t rolling out the +1 button for the exclusive benefit of small businesses or even social networking fanatics. For Google, the apparent impetus for the new tool is to drive greater user dependence on and interaction with registered Google accounts. Most Google searches, after all, are performed without users being logged into their Google accounts. By offering a substantially more personalized incentive to log in before you search, Google stands to benefit in a broad variety of ways.
For now, Google’s +1 button remains in beta, but it won’t be long before the new feature debuts for all users. Also, it isn’t exactly clear if and how Google plans to integrate +1 into mobile search results, but given the rapid expansion of Google mobile search, it’s likely that smartphone users won’t be deprived of this new social search feature for long.
For more information about Google +1, check out the Official Google Blog or watch Google’s +1 video demonstration below.