Google Search Becomes Social
Google's Social Search feature is now available to the public, bringing a new level of relevancy to Google search results.
Social Search is built on the idea that people may be more interested in what their friends and associates have to say about a particular topic than a stranger. While Google search can often provide millions of results, Social Search can cut those down to the ones that really matter.
To use Social Search, users must have a Google Profile, a dedicated Google page containing their basic personal information and a list of social sites they are members of. From this list, Social Search creates a list of friends and friends of friends to draw upon whenever the user conducts a Google search.
For example, if a user has a Twitter account listed in their Google Profile, Google will go out and gather not only the names of their Twitter followers but the names of the people their friends follow as well.
When users initiate any Google search, a highlighted listing will appear at the bottom of their search results showing relevant content by anyone in their social circle. Google emphasizes that only publicly available content appears in search results. Users can easily generate a listing of their social circle and add or delete contacts.
Google generates each social circle from three sources: the information in a user's Google Profile, Google Chat buddies and content that they have posted in Google Reader. Users can modify their social circle by changing information in any one of these sources.
The personalized social feature has been added to Google Images, too. Images made available from social circle contacts appear under a special heading called "Results from your social circle."
Social search makes it easy for users to "google themselves," a practice commonly known as egosurfing. Clicking on "My social content" on a Google search results page lists the user’s own public pages that could appear in other people's social results.
Google’s search has been in testing mode for the last three months, as indicated by the “beta” label. Even though Social Search is now public, Google is still keeping the "beta" designation as a reminder that there is more work to be done on the new feature.
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