Important update from the Googleplex today with news that searches will now feature more from a user’s friends on social media sites and integration within the main results page.
Introduced in October 2009, Google started featuring results from a user’s contacts (as long as they were logged in to their Google account) for relevant searches.
Such results came from people being followed on Twitter, sources on RSS feeds and the like.
Until now the results were buried at the bottom of the page of accessed via the “social” button in the left-hand navigation bar.
In today’s upgrade Google has decided to throw social results into the main results page and dramatically widened the number of sources streaming in – meaning that any content from a contact’s activity (such as sharing) or contributions to Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Quora, blogs, news sites will stream in.
Google, with its new-found love of all things travel, uses a trip search query to explain a little bit more how it works in this clip:
What does it all mean?
Whereas previously the social results were tucked away at the foot of the page, content (be it video, images, blogs, news, etc) from those in a user’s social graph will now stand shoulder-to-shoulder alongside results from the wider web.
It is unclear exactly how the order of results will be calculated.
But those hovering around the lower fringes of page one, for example, may well soon find themselves relegated to the dungeon of page two on Google, not because they have lost relevancy in their own right but due to a user simply being logged in with a Google account and seeing results from their friends.
So an obscure blog post about a location by a friend – or, indeed, something they simply retweeted – could quite feasibly trump the well-oiled SEO of an established travel company.
That is a big deal.
Furthermore, Google is making it easier for users to find people within their social graph as well as automatically suggesting if a user wishes to connect their profile on another social network into the graph.
Where the Social Search falls short, in some respects, is its lack of integration with the omnipresent Facebook, meaning that people’s “likes” are not featured in the search results.