Google May Utilize +1 Button to Rank Search Results

If you thought that Google+ and that pesky +1 button was going anywhere, you were seriously wrong. Wired reports that Google is planning on turning that +1 button you see pop up on the web into a crowd sourcing tool to figure out what you’re reading. The move would usher Google into the new era of search with its social networking offerings and maybe even change the way advertisers use search to make money.

A spokesman for Google confirmed this in an email to Wired and added that, “Google will study the clicks on +1 buttons as a signal that influences the ranking and appearance of websites in search results. The purpose of any ranking signal is to improve overall search quality. For +1’s and other social ranking signals, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals are related to quality.”

Google will use the +1 button not only to promote its own social networking product, but also to rank search links. The more people +1 a link, the higher it will appear in the search results. This is great, for instance, in getting a Wiki page to appear up at the top of the list rather than a brand’s main page, which more people are likely to visit because of the readily available facts. However, this new feature could also be manipulated to tweak search results in favor of advertisers, which would serve search users poorly.

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