Google has announced that they are adding the plus-one button in an attempt to make web searching more social. This variation on the like button should give Google some ammunition against Facebook.

Users will be able to share their search preference via Gchat, Gmail, Google Reader, Buzz and (in the near future) Twitter. Plus-one will also be integrated into Google’s search algorithm. “When someone recommends something, that’s a pretty good indicator of quality,” said Matt Cutts, Google’s principle engineer for search. “We are strongly looking at using this in our rankings.”

Search ads can also receive plus-one votes, which studies show lead to more clicks. This could improve quality scores for some ads and thus lower the pay rate for a given keyword or position. “We will provide reporting in AdWords for plus-ones,” said ads group product manager Christian Oestlien. “Our belief is that advertisers will see increased performance from ads with personalized annotations.”

Of course, the Facebook like system is powerful, but right now Google has no plans to add it to their search algorithm because they have no legal rights to do so. “Its important for Google to bring in social influence into search results to prevent the social web from becoming a parallel universe,” said Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i, a unit of Dentsu. “I do think they need to have the Facebook ‘likes’ in there because you’re going to have two webs, the social web and the open web.”

The key may be to keep some companies from gaming the system. “The worst case is you just ignore them,” said Cutts. “If you give somebody five signals — and give them five more — it can actually get harder for spammers.”

Source: AdAge