How Relevant is the Google +1 Button?

google +1 screenGoogle recently announced a new feature called the +1 button. While the header on the +1 button page simply says “Recommendations when you want them,” the real question is, How many people will actually take the time to use it?

Think of the +1 button as a variation of Facebook’s “Like” feature. The button is not readily available to everyone yet, but you can sign up to test it by visiting the Google Experimental page. Upon logging into your Google Account and signing up, you can start using the feature to tag articles, websites and even ads that interest you. To +1 something, simply click on the +1 button that appears next to each link in Google search results. Upon doing so, it becomes public for everyone to see. According to Google, the recommendations you see will be from your social connections and vice versa. (Social connections include people in Gmail/Google Talk chat list; the My Contact group in Google Contacts; and people you follow in Google Reader and Google Buzz.)

Once you start using the feature, a +1’s tab will appear on your Google Profile that compiles a list of everything you’ve tagged. Unlike the +1’s that are displayed publicly across the web, +1’s tab can be hidden and made private.

So how does it look in action? Well, upon further inspection, it’s clear why the feature is still hidden from the general public. I typed “japan CNN” into Google and started +1’ing random articles, which worked exactly as advertised. The buttons next to those results turned blue and a small message saying “You +1’d this publicly” appeared under the headline. However, once a co-worker tried searching for the same phrase, my recommendations were nowhere to be found. Despite having me in the My Contact group and the Gmail/Google Talk chat list, she could not see any of my +1’s in her Google search results. Interestingly enough, my co-worker could see a Twitter recommendation from another contact.

The fact that she saw a Twitter recommendation and not my Google +1’s leads back to the title of this article. With Facebook, Twitter, Digg and all of the other sites that help users recommend content to family and friends, is there a place for Google in this over saturated market? How many people will see this feature as a drastic improvement over what they currently use? Until the feature actually goes live, it’s hard to tell. We’d love to know your thoughts! And, in the meantime, please give our blog a +1 if you like it!