Over a year after Facebook made its ‘Like’ button available for personal preferences across the net, Google has stepped up to the plate. Introducing the new ‘+ 1′ feature at the end of March, the search engine is providing search users with an avenue to publicly note their preferences.

The new feature allows users to share preferences with acquaintances, meaning that local and other searches can be made even more personal. As with all of Google’s personalisations over the last couple of years, the development could impact heavily on the average site’s SEO plans. Site owners need to be more aware than ever of individual users.

The new feature could have a big impact on the effectiveness of search engine advertising as well. Google’s Group Product Manager for ads, Christian Oestlien, stated that he predicts that ads with ‘+ 1′ will receive a higher click-through rate. However, as all of Google’s ads will automatically receive a ‘+ 1′, there is a distinct possibility that the new feature’s presence on every single ad could oversaturate the page and lessen the impact of + 1 overall.

The feature, which is aimed to eventually function much like the ‘Like’ button, is currently only available within the search pages. The initial release of code to allow site owners to feature the button was swiftly taken back when Google’s webmasters deemed the product not yet ready. Although this has impeded the feature’s usefulness for now, there is no doubt that ‘+ 1′ will become a handy tool for search engine optimisation in the near future.

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