Can Google make Internet search more social? That’s the goal with +1, a new service that allows Google users to mark things they find (think travel spots, recipes or concert reviews) with an easy-to-use button. Comparable to Facebook’s ubiquitous “like” button, Google notes in a blog post that the service will provide relevance to a user’s individual search.

“The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).”

You can see it in action in this video:

The concept is pretty cool, but unfortunately it is only available at this time to a small percentage of users in the U.S. Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has a great overview of how +1 works, noting that the idea “makes a lot of sense” and pointing out that it puts Google squarely in competition with Facebook

He writes:

Google might have convinced itself it’s not building a social network, but +1 certainly seems to be a good start toward one. While it is beginning as a “layer” that’s part of search, those +1 buttons — when they hit the web — will put Google directly alongside Facebook in the “liking” game.

Interestingly, the announcement of +1 comes just as the company admits that the launch of Google Buzz “fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control—letting our users and Google down.” As part of that, the company said today it has entered into an agreement to settle outstanding issues with the FTC.

Can +1 help reverse the failures of Buzz, which never really took off? Personally, the whole Google Buzz service never really resonated with me. Google +1, at least on the surface, seems like a much easier concept to understand.

Interestingly, the advancement also could have implications for Microsoft, which has been attempting to eat away at Google’s own market dominance in Internet search. You’ve got to wonder whether Bing also has something up their sleeves when it comes to easy ways to recommend content found through Internet searches?

So, why the name +1? Google explains that’s the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.”

You can access Google +1 here.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

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  • Jacob MIlla

    This is great, but this means I have to go back to the search result after viewing the site to +1 it? Who recommends a site before using it? Still sounds like a good start tho!

    • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

      You don’t think there will be +1 Chrome/Firefox/etc. extensions very soon?

      • Jacob MIlla

        Even if there is, no one wants to install extensions   

  • Anonymous

    I think this is finally the game-changer Google needs to break away from serving search results mostly based on the strength of a websites back link profile. With +1 even my mother who will never understand a retweet or a “like” can now “vote” with a simple click next to a Google SERP.

    Scott Krager

  • Brant Williams

    Looking forward to hearing feedback from those who are in the early experiment with this.

  • Tommy Unger

    The main challenge I see with +1 vs Likes, Shares, Tweets is that it more prone to bias based on rank. I’d imaging the +1 distribution will likely be similar to the search rank, and might be identical to typical organic click thru curves. As for as *social* aspects, what do I tell my “followers”, click thru to page 5 on google for the keyword “online marketing”, then “+1” optify? Not is nice as “Like”, or “Share” or a shortened URL in twitter.

  • Domainers Gate

    no, it will be the nth Google FLOP (like the GLXP)

  • HR Mitchell

    More useless crap coding slowing down the browsing.

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