Google +1, the social recommendation feature that lets users indicate their favorite pages, is picking up steam. Google is continuing to push the feature – in both its webmaster button form and the social search results connected to +1s – by releasing the feature in numerous additional countries.
+1's Increasing Momentum
The thought that Google +1 was part of a larger social construct has gained both more weight and some contradictory evidence with the release of Google+ – the actual Google social site that we've been bleeding for over the last year (editor's note: check back for more coverage on Google+ later today on Search Engine Watch). While +1s are likely to get an integration with the Google social network, much in the same way that Facebook Likes are integrated with the Facebook news stream, the +1 feature is also meant to stand alone.
The +1 experiment started in March, webmasters got the button to add to their site earlier this month, Google has since added a +1 button to numerous properties (such as product pages and Blogger widgets), +1 counts – some of which are localized – are appearing in search results, and the product is continuing to gain momentum. As part of that snowball effect, Google is spreading +1 around the world.
Previously available in the U.S., the +1 button is now available to webmasters in the UK, Germany, Japan, and France, and many other countries will gain access shortly. More importantly, the socially promoted results will start appearing in country-specific search sites.
The Gravity of +1
As Google +1 continues to accelerate, there's a big question to be answered: Is this skyrocketing or a plummet toward earth that we're witnessing? It's not surprising that +1 has taken some time to get results, especially ones that are highly visible on the search engines.
As with many social web elements, +1s gain more power the more any user sees their friends +1ing. But will it be enough?
For Google, the +1 mechanism isn't a small deal. Beyond being the equivalent of a "like," which will be an important part of the Google+ social network, Google is relying on +1 to provide social search features.
If +1 doesn't succeed, Bing, Yahoo, Blekko, and anyone else who can establish partnerships with Facebook – the established social medium – will get a leg up on social search, a vital part of how information will be found in the coming years.