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Google rolls its Facebook mimic onto rest of web

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Google has rolled its Facebook-mimicking "+1" button onto third-party websites.

Mountain View debuted the button on its own search engine this past March, describing it as a way for Google users to recommend search results to other users. The button appeared beside weblinks as well as ads, and if you clicked on it, Google would then display a "+1" icon on the same link when people you're connected to – via Google Chat, Google Contacts, or other services – ran searches of their own.

"It’s called +1 – the digital shorthand for 'this is pretty cool,'" the company said. The shorthand was previously popularized by Slashdot.org and other sites.

Now, third-parties can add the Google +1 button to their own sites. "But sometimes you want to +1 a page while you’re on it. After all, how do you know you want to suggest that recipe for chocolate flan if you haven’t tried it out yet?" the company said in a Wednesday blog post. "Today, we’re releasing +1 buttons to the whole web. As a result, you might start seeing +1 appear on sites large and small across the Internet."

The button is already offered by Reuters, TechCrunch, Mashable, Bloomberg, O'Reilly, The Washington Post, and other Google partners. Google also said it's rolling the button onto other properties of its own, including the Android Market, Blogger, Product Search, and YouTube.

The +1 button is analogous to the Facebook "Like" button, which has long been used by third-party sites. Google's button is designed to better target ads as well as "organic" search results to particular users, and if it's used on third-party sites, Google can potentially have even more insight into what you enjoy on the web.

The motivation is simple: If you tell Google what you like, Google has a better idea of what ads you might click on. "Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages," Google has said.

Facebook has a particular knack for collecting such user data, and since Zuckerberg and company have been reluctant to share this data with Google and others, Google has tried time and again to establish a reliable way of gathering the information on its own. Before +1, there was Orkut and Google Buzz. ®

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