After all the talk, Google's +1 button is now officially here. In a low-key blog post, Google simply announced that the button has launched with a handful of web properties, comprised of the usual suspects.
Ways to Set the Button Up
Currently, there are few options:
When adding the button you have your choice of four sizes ranging from 15 pixels to 60 pixels tall, set the language annotations will appear in, and the option to display (or not) a counter indicating the number of +1s your page has received.
For advanced Webmasters, you may also specify callback functions in the form of a JSON object. You can also pass a URL to the +1 button code. This is especially useful for bloggers who want to put the +1 button in their list of recent posts or category pages. By default, the +1 button uses the URL of the page it is on. By passing a different URL, you can +1 a page using a button on a completely different page. Twitter's Tweet button allows this functionality, too.
Do You Really Need it?
Aside from yet another social button by which to share, what does this mean for you and your Web site? Although you would not know it from the low-key announcement, this is Google's most important push towards social search, with so much riding on it that Larry Page has made a bonus plan for Google employees.
Annotations will now be seen by people you (and others) are connected to via Google. However, Google has yet to prove that +1s will have the same far-reaching impact that Facebook likes currently offer.
However, a close reading reveals that Android Market, YouTube, Blogger and Product Search will all see +1 buttons arriving soon. This has the potential to be a game-changer as it will be the first time that user data is really exchanged between these properties. In particular, Android Market definitely stands to successfully differentiate itself against the Apple AppStore - which has no means to bookmark apps or recommend them to friends, even via iTunes Ping.
New Data Nuggets
Web analytics may not necessarily need another metric but +1 button promises to help measure engagement. Official details on what data will stream from Google's +1 button are not available yet, but Jim Prosser from Google confirmed to SEW that "we're bringing data to Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and AdWords frontend soon".
Did Google Just Kill SEO?
For the entire 411, you can check out Google's +1 button FAQ. Will you be rushing to put the +1 button on your site? We are. SEW is dropping the Digg button to make room for it. How times have changed *sigh*.