Google Plus 1 Image - Google Monster by Shan Jiang taken from T3.comLate last month Google released a new feature called Google +1. The general feeling is that this is in response to Bing offering recommended results based on sites that your Facebook friends “Like”.

What exactly is Google +1?

Google +1 is Google’s version of the Facebook “Like” button. The difference is that it isn’t integrated into a social network that you use. It is part of your Google account. As a matter of fact, in order to use +1 you need to have a public Google profile.

For those of us who have a Gmail account, this is not a problem. Just go in to your Google account and create a public profile. But what is entailed in that? Well there are two ways you can go, you can sit there and take about 20 minutes, give or take and fill out your information or you can opt to fill it in later and get right to +1-ing.

“But John, I don’t have a Google Account…”

If you don’t have Google account then, that’s just one more step to take before you can take part in this system. But that begs the question, with a user base of over 700 million on Facebook, can Google’s +1 stand toe to toe with Bing’s use of the Facebook like button data?

According to Wikipedia, as of November 2010, Google’s Gmail only had 193.3 million users. But the other side of the coin is, according to Hubspot’s Blog, Google has become the first company in the world to receive 1 billion views per month. Those 1 billion views per month generate more than 10 billion searches per month. With this kind of traffic and power, it is no wonder why SEO’s optimize to Google’s guidelines first then tweak sites for the rest. It is also a very good reason why +1 could be successful, although they won’t be getting any points for originality.

But still, 193.3 million is still 506.7 million short of Facebook’s user base. Google has a long way to go if they want to compete with Facebook’s “Like” button. They will need to offer something more than email, chat and search if they plan on getting accounts signed up with public profiles to use the +1 system.

What is the incentive?

So we create a user account and set up a public profile so we can click a button? I’m sorry but, the last time I checked there were plenty of buttons on the Internet that could be clicked. “But this button will allow you to see what people you know have recommended or think is cool.” So? I already have a Facebook account. I can see that information there and Bing has a full fledged incentive program.

Brass Tacks

What is comes down to is where do you search? Are you one of the 1 billion page viewers that contributes to the more than 10 billion searches performed on Google on a monthly basis? These are the things to consider when deciding if this is something that you want to do. There are two ways to look at this and even I’m on the fence.

On one hand this is a service that could help to weed out spam and nonsense on the Google SERP or at least point you in a direction where you aren’t clicking into something that looks like it is what you are looking for but really isn’t. Also, it is light and doesn’t require you to interact with a network to see what your friends like or recommend.

On the other hand, there is already as system for this type of thing in place and this system already has 700 million active monthly users that are “Liking” and sharing all in the same place. Do we really need another way to do this? This doesn’t even take into account Twitter and social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reditt. Is it possible the market for this sort of thing is oversaturated already?

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The Bottom Line or What have we learned?

While there are multiple ways for users to share and promote content on the web, it comes down to a matter of preference. Maybe you’re sick of Facebook as so many people I know have become. Maybe, you are happy with what you have and enjoy the interaction with friends and family that Facebook offers. Either way, one can find value in Google’s +1. It is just a matter of how much.