Google Launches Social Search

by | Oct 28, 2009

After signing a deal with Twitter last week to display Tweets in search results, Google launched another surprise experiment in Google Labs: Social Search.

It’s long been said that success in business depends on who you know. Now, success on the search engine results pages will also depend on who you know, now that Google has launched its Social Search product into its experimental Google Labs.
– Kevin Newcomb at ClickZ reports

As Google VP Marisa Mayer explained at the Web 2.0 Summit, the Social Search highlights content created by friends of the searcher, or content from sites that the user follows via RSS feed. Social Search will put more weight on a user’s social graph when determining what results are relevant.

Our objective is to bring content authored or endorsed by your social circle right to your Google search results.
– Amit Singhal, Google Fellow

Social Search results will reference content created by the user’s Google contacts, (Gmail, Google Talk, etc.), including Friendfeed and Twitter accounts linked in the user’s Google Profile. RSS feeds linked in Google Reader, and sites linked in a user’s Google Profile will also weigh heavily in Social Search results.

Those results will appear in a separate section at the bottom of the search results page, at least for now, Singhal said. Google will return blog posts, Twitter and FriendFeed entries, or other content created by the searcher’s social connections, or from blogs the searcher has subscribed to in Google Reader, under the heading “Results from people in your social circle,” as depicted below.

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Singhal emphasized that all content included in these results is already publicly available to anyone, so nothing the creator hasn’t already shared publicly will be revealed. Facebook might be on the outs for this deal, since much of their content is viewable only to friends.

So what does it all mean?

My take: Brilliant move to blur the line between search and social media. Google is tailoring Google profiles as a social hub, leveraging their search algorithms to pull relevant data from a user’s social media network.

Marketers and SEO buffs take note. Google is considering social media networks to determine relevancy for search results. As major search engines begin to weigh social media relevancy, you can expect to see companies focus intently on building these crucial connections.