"It's called +1 - the digital shorthand for 'this is pretty cool,'" says Google about its new +1 recommendation feature.
+1 is Google's version of the Facebook "like" button or Twitter's "retweet" feature. It provides Google users with an easy way to recommend (or save for future reference) any search result or ad found on Google.
"To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful," explained Google Product Manager Rob Spiro in a March 30 blog post. "These +1's will then start appearing in Google's search results."
Google +1 also helps to further personalize web searches for you and your friends, by pushing search results that have been liked by the people in your social circles higher up in the search results page.
"The beauty of +1's is their relevance - you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results)," said Spiro.
However, Google's +1 feature is not just relegated to social search results; in the months to come internet users will start seeing +1 appear on websites around the web.
Google is amassing an army of friends and is poised to fight its rivals for control of the social web.
Just as Facebook and Twitter have spread their social networking ties across the WWW, Google is hoping +1 will become the go-to network for sharing and recommending the web's greatest hits - but that future is still far away and Google has a lot of work to do before +1 can reach that point.
+1 will be connected to your Google account and profile. Your +1 network of friends will initially include people you have already connected with via Google's sites (for example your buddies on Google Chat or people listed in your Gmail contacts).
"If you want to know who you're connected to, and how, visit the "Social Circle and Content" section of the Google Dashboard," advised Spiro.
Your Social Circle may one day be expanded to include people you have connected with on sites like Twitter, commented Google, "to ensure your recommendations are as relevant as possible."
Just like your tweets on Twitter, your +1s are public, cautions Google on the +1 opt-in page. "They can appear in Google search results, on ads, and sites across the web."
Should you ever want to manage your +1s, there is a new tab on your Google Profile where you can see and edit the sites you have +1'ed.
To start with, +1 will only appear on a small percentage of Google's search results, starting in English on Google.com. +1 will then be slowly rolled out to include other Google products and sites across the web over the next weeks and months.
If you want to start clicking +1 and are are too impatient to wait, you can opt in to the +1 launch by heading to Google's experimental search site.