The Google +1 button is continuing its march across Google properties. The latest recipient is Google Image Search, which now allows users to +1 directly from an image result and which promotes +1'd results to users who are connected to your account.
The +1 button is a Facebook "like" doppelgänger that sees integration with the Google+ social network. First introduced in March of this year, the +1 button quickly saw integration with various Google services.
Google Image Search is especially significant as it's an arm of Google's core business. Since users will both see a promoted image and an "annotation on the images" to indicate who +1'd it (according to the Inside Search blog announcing the addition), the new feature will impact both placement and trust.
As +1s impact image search rankings, they will become a part of media optimization; it may become standard to have a specially configured +1 button next to any high-quality image on a site.
At a minimum, the social search element of promoting +1'd results to connected users will create a new opportunity for exposure. It is also unclear whether +1s will impact image search ranking. Early speculation says that image placement will see about as much impact from +1s as search placement does – which is to say, a visible if very small portion of results will be impacted.
For the time being, the only way to +1 an image is via Google Image Search. I spent some time digging to see if I could find any way to use a +1 button on your site that would also count as a Google Image Search +1 for the selected picture. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anything; a simple "href" tag (which is already built into the +1 mechanic) doesn't translate as a +1 for the sake of Google Image Search, while attempting to use the full URL string that's noted when you +1 an image via Image Search causes users to +1 a redirect page.
It's likely that Google will release their own re-worked version of the +1 code to accommodate for this additional layer of image optimization. However, if any code gurus have an idea how to tweak the existing +1 code for this purpose, leave us your thoughts in the comments.