March 30, 2011, 5:11 PM

Google adds a social recommendation tool

The search giant launches +1, a new way to like search results.

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Google Inc. today announced the launch of +1, a social recommendation tool that enables web users to indicate they like a particular Google search result; the tool will soon be available for non-Google web pages like e-retail product pages and news articles. Google says the +1 signal is then reflected in the search results of others. Google says +1s will influence organic search results.

“We’re confident that +1, combined with all of the social content we’re now including in search, will mean even better, more relevant results than you get today,” says Rob Spiro, Google product manager, in a blog post today.

To use +1, which Google says is tech speak for “this is pretty cool,” a web user must activate a Google public profile in his Google Account. The +1 button will then appear next to search results and paid search ads. If a web user wants to recommend a particular search result, he clicks the +1 button.

Google then displays that recommendation to other users when that result appears in a search. When someone in that user’s network of contacts, such as Gmail contacts, sees that result, Google includes the name of the contact and says he +1’d this. A Google product video that explains the service describes +1 as way to give a bit of advice and for “you and your friends to find things in Google search.” It is unclear whether names will be attached in the +1 recommendations of people outside the network or if Google will display the cumulative tally of +1s, similar to the way the number of Facebook Likes are shown.

Google says +1 is now available only for English-language natural and paid search results, but that users will soon be able to find and click the +1 button on other web content, such as on e-retail product pages, blogs and news sites.

Google says +1s will be calculated into how it determines organic search rankings, but says +1s won’t change how it calculates quality scores. Quality scores help determine when a paid ad appears in search results. “Think of +1 buttons as an enhancement that can help already successful search campaigns perform even better,” says Google’s Dan Friedman.

Sreeram Ramachandran, senior software engineer at Google, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “Do your web pages need a new fitness regimen?

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