With the announcement of its new +1 feature, launched yesterday, Google looks to expand the concept of “liking” (a la Facebook) beyond social networks. According to the official Google blog, +1 is shorthand for “this is pretty cool,” and this way of sharing your enthusiasm about websites, posts, and more is meant to help your friends and other users who are searching for something you’ve also searched for.
Similar to liking something on Facebook, +1′ing an item in Google search results lets people know that you found it interesting, helpful, or otherwise amusing. In addition to giving you the option to +1 your favorite search results (and even ads), Google will share your +1s with your Google contacts as they appear in search. So, for if example, if you found a particularly great hotel on Google when searching for “Paris hotels,” you could +1 the website and your contacts would see it if they conducted the same search.
But how does Google decide whose +1s to show you? For now, you’ll be able to see the +1s of your Google contacts and chat buddies, but the company said it may expand the service to include sharing with Twitter and more. According to the Google blog, the feature will eventually appear across the web on various sites, not just in search results.
To use the +1 feature, you must create a Google profile (if you already have one, you’ll need to upgrade it by pressing the “Edit Profile” button). Google is rolling out the +1 service gradually, so not everyone will see the +1 buttons appearing in search results yet. If you’re anxious to give the feature a try, visit Google’s experimental site and press the “Join this experiment” button.