Well, here comes Google’s first real shot at Facebook, introducing the +1 button, essentially, Google’s own “like” button and a step into social that will start appearing for people who have joined the experiment in Google Labs. The +1 button will hit search results from this week, allowing people to “+1″ search results, leaving a visual recommendation for your friends to see.
This button provides a few things for Google, firstly, a dramatic increase in “Google Profile” setups (something that just really hasn’t performed well) that really needs to hit a critical mass to have the same social acquisition effect that Facebook is enjoying.
Secondly, it’s about ad targeting data… Facebook are now clear leaders in terms of display ads, and will dominate over the next few years while they are the only ones letting advertisers leverage user-defined profile information to develop highly targeted ad campaigns, Google doesn’t have this, and they need it to compete in a social world.
Then comes the SEO puzzle, what impact will hundreds of +1′s have on your page ranking? Is this going to become another “click fraud” style issue? And don’t forget all the recommendation engine’s Google could pull out of it, and how they could mine that social data… Exciting times are ahead this year, so make sure you join the +1 button experiment here. More on this another day!