Google used to show the +1 button on all of its search results at the same time, meaning you could look at a page, and see the button on each one. Now, you have to mouse over a result to see it.
You can still see plus one counts when applicable, without having to mouse over. You can also see the button if you’ve already +1’d it, as well as your friends that have +1’d a result, without mousing over. If you have not clicked the button in the past, however, you will not see it without the mouseover.
Is this an earth-shattering change by Google? No. Probably not. Still, I have to wonder if this will result in more or less clicks on the +1 button from search results. It’s a subtle, but interesting move by Google as the company is obviously trying to grow the user base of Google+ and the +1 button. Is making it less visible the right choice? Does it matter at all?
+1’s do send Google a signal that is uses in ranking. I wonder if, simply by default, this will weaken that signal, even if just slightly. On the other hand, maybe people will notice it more if it pops up upon mouseover. What do you think?
Hat tip to Alex Chitu at Google Operating System for pointing this out.