Google Plus +1 buttons have been popping up all over the web for the last several weeks--you might have noticed them here on ReelSEO. But up until today, the purpose and function of these buttons has been rather nebulous. What happens when you click +1? How is the "vote" used? We knew that it impacted the search results of your friends in some way, but that was about the extent of it. Today Google announced that they're rolling out the ability to share directly with your Circles from the +1 button.

Share To Circles With New Google Plus +1 Button

The Google Plus +1 buttons can now be used to share directly on your Stream, with whichever of your Circles you choose. Until now, the button hasn't translated directly to a sharing action with your Plus connections. Despite that fact, the button has been implemented by more than a million publishers and has "crossed more than 2 billion views."

The new capabilities should lead to even more publishers adding the button, as well as an increase in reader use. Users just need to click the +1 button as normal, and a new "Share On Google Plus" option appears.

There's also a new concept called +Snippets. +Snippets are the thumbnails and text samples that Google Plus pulls automatically from the links and pages on which you click +1. Here's a screenshot (from the Google blog) of what +Snippets looks like:

To some degree, publishing sites can dictate the link, image, and descriptive text that appears in these +Snippets. The Google Webmaster blog has a more in-depth description on how publishers can take full advantage of the +1 button's new capabilities.

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Video & The New Google Plus +1 Button

This is huge news for publishers of all kinds, because it makes something that was previously somewhere between mysterious and unnecessary to readers and makes it useful. But it's especially big for video creators. Why? Because all YouTube videos have the +1 sharing button below them.

Videos spread because of social sharing activity, and now the +1 button allows that activity. Video creators would be wise to implement the button on their blog or website, and even educate viewers to help encourage them to use it.

Here's a video Google created to help explain the new Google Plus +1 buttons:

The new +1 button functions will be rolling out this week, but if you can't wait and want to jump in early, you can join the Google Plus Platform group here.