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Everything you need to know about Google's +1

Google is adding a "+1" button to make search results more germane.
Google is adding a "+1" button to make search results more germane.
  • The +1 button represents another way to compete with Facebook
  • "It's very easy and lightweight way to make search results more relevant," says Jim Prosser
  • The public won't see the change for another few months
  • Google Inc.
  • Internet
  • Technology

(Mashable) -- Google's announcement that it's adding a "+1" button to incorporate user recommendations into its search results raised a lot of questions not addressed in the company's official announcement.

The +1 button, Google's answer to Facebook's Like button, will appear soon beside links in Google search results. By clicking the button, users will be able to recommend links to their list of Gmail contacts.

We spoke with Google rep Jim Prosser about +1. Here are some of our questions answered. What other questions do you have about the new product?

Why is Google doing this?

Aside from the fact that it represents another way to compete with Facebook, Google's official line is that it will make search results more germane. Says Prosser: "People consult their friends and other contacts on decisions. It's very easy and lightweight way to make search results more relevant."

Will the number of +1s affect search rankings?

Prosser says no, but adds that it's something Google is "very interested" in incorporating in some form at some point.

Who are these contacts we're seeing next to the +1s?

They are from Google Contacts, which come from various Google products, most notably Gmail, Buzz and Reader.

Will we see Facebook friends giving +1s at some point?

Not likely. Prosser draws a distinction between the "open web" and Facebook's closed system. Google is up for incorporating open social media apps, but not Facebook. And Facebook isn't likely to be interested in bolstering +1, a competitor to its "Like" button.

What about Twitter?

That's a different story. Google already incorporates Twitter data into its searches, though Prosser says there are no immediate plans for integrating Twitter results with +1.

What about using data from other social networks?

Prosser says Google is interested in using more data from Flickr and Quora, which Google considers "open web" apps. Initially, though, you won't see your Flickr or Quora friends' +1 recommendations.

When will we start seeing the +1s?

Not for a few months, at least not en masse. Those who are interested in experimenting with +1 right away can go to Otherwise, Prosser says only a "very small percentage" of searches and sites will have the +1 button within the next few weeks.

Will +1 be incorporated into banner ads?

Not right away, though Google is interested in that possibility.

Can marketers game the system by running "check +1 to enter" promotions?

It seems that Google frowns on this sort of thing, but it's unclear whether the company expressly forbids it. Meanwhile, to maintain the integrity of the results, Prosser recommends that marketers don't tweak their copy to ensure more +1s.

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