The +1 button is Google's take on Facebook's Like button. Both are code snippets that can be embedded in webpages to encourage user engagement and social interaction, thereby generating valuable usage and social data for Google and driving traffic to websites.
"+1 is as simple on the rest of the Web as it is on Google search," explained Google software engineer Evan Gilbert in a blog post. "With a single click you can recommend that raincoat, news article, or favorite sci-fi movie to friends, contacts, and the rest of the world. The next time your connections search, they could see your +1's directly in their search results, helping them find your recommendations when they're most useful."
In addition to making the +1 button available on its own properties like Android Market, Blogger, Product Search, and YouTube, Google has partnered with a variety of media and retail websites to encourage social interaction. Google's +1 partners include: AddThis, Mashable, The Huffington Post, Nordstrom, Rotten Tomatoes, O'Reilly, The Washington Post, TechCrunch, BestBuy, and Bloomberg.
For participating companies, placing +1 buttons on their webpages offers a way to make search results stand out--users signed-in to their Google Accounts will see when friends and contracts have endorsed a particular webpage. Google says this helps improve click-through rates for both content and advertising--the +1 button can also appear next to the headline of search ads.
Aggregated +1 button usage counts are visible to everyone; people with Google Accounts who are signed in will be able to see personalized annotations from people in their Gmail or Google Talk chat list, people in their My Contacts group in Google Contacts, and people they're following in Google Reader or Google Buzz.
Google's Buzz button is similar in concept to its +1 button, but the Buzz button is designed to promote conversations while the +1 button is for recommending search content.
The +1 button continues Google effort to make search more social and more personalized. In February, the company said that it had begun integrating social content from services like YouTube and Flickr into algorithmically determined search results.
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