In what seems to be an attempt to further push its new Google +1 button, Google is beginning to show the number of +1's sites have received in the search results, whether or not you're logged in to a Google account and regardless of which browser you use.
Earlier this afternoon on a search for Google Maps, for the first time I noticed a new (and previously announced) addition to Google's search results, an annotation indicating "X people +1'd this." In this case, 1,708 people have +1'd Google Maps. Here's the screenshot:
I saw this on Safari on a Mac and IE7 on a PC, not logged in to Google. This counter is similar in looks to a recent AdWords experiment Google has been running, which shows how many people have clicked on an advertisement – not surprising considering Google has previously announced the addition of +1 to AdWords.
Meanwhile, SEW Director Jonathan Allen is seeing another version of this while using Chrome on a Mac, which shows "114 people in New York, USA +1'd this":
When signed in (on Firefox), Google is showing which of Allen's social circle connections have +1'd a page:
What other sites is Google revealing +1 counts for? So far, I've found Google:
Since Google +1 launched in late March, there has been much speculation about what +1 means for search marketing and SEO. It also makes sense that Google would adjust their algorithm (with Panda) to eliminate less favorable content and then directly collect social signals from users with +1.
Some have already deemed the +1 button another Google social failure, as usage has been underwhelming thus far – and many predicted failure from the start. This could be an indication that Google is getting serious about making the Google +1 button a success – remember Googlers will see lower bonuses if Google's social initiatives fail thanks to new CEO Larry Page.
As this new annotation rolls out to more sites in Google's search results, it could end up influencing webmasters to implement the button, and encourage users to click on links to pages that have received higher numbers of +1s. We've already reported on one Google +1 experiment that showed a 20 percent increase in rankings, and corresponding lift in click-through rates.
Are you also seeing this new +1 annotation? Let us know in the comments if you're seeing one of these, or another variation, and for which searches.