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Google News Badges rewards you for reading

screenshot of Google video about Google Badges
Google Badges are colorful icons that tell you what types of news stories you read. video screenshot by Eric Smalley for CNET

(CBS) - As if it wasn't enough we rely on Google to help us answer virtually any question, inquiry or concern imaginable, now the search engine giant is rewarding surfers for reading the news.

Google News Badges, which rolled out last week, is supposed to "encourage people to visit sites of their interest and share them with others using its networking site Google+, which in turn will increase traffic to those sites," reports International Business Times.

Other sites like Foursquare and Gowalla currently use this gamification model whereby users are given incentives for being engaged.

Google says there are 500 badges available, news junkies! You can earn the "Stock Market" badge, the "US Elections" badge or even a "Harry Potter" badge (just to name a few).

Just how will Google do this? It's going to keep track of the articles you visit. Depending on the topic, you can earn a badge simply by visiting. "The more you read, Google gives you more stars on your badges starting at the bronze level and moving up to silver, platinum and ultimate," says International Business Times. Check it out:

"Read enough stories on a certain topic and you get a badge. Read even more and you rise through the levels - bronze, silver, gold, and ultimate," CNET points out.

But not to worry, if you are searching for something along the lines of "what is this rash on my private part," you can keep that information to yourself. (Whew!) Your badges are private by default. Should you wish to brag about what you're reading - perhaps you want to showcase the fact that you're an "intellectual" or whatever - you can make your rewards public. In fact you can even share badges with friends.

"This is just the first step - the bronze release, if you will - of Google News badges," says Google. "Once we see how badges are used and shared, we look forward to taking this feature to the next level."

There's a cool feature that creates news sections out of your badges to customize your reading experience further. That way, you can find your topics of interest even quicker.

Are you going to take advantage of Google's badge system to personalize your news or do you think it's too intrusive?

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