In its biggest sweeping move in a decade, Google segued its social network Google+ into its search results, transforming search into a deeply integrated social experience.
Logged in Google+ members will now find Google+ content sprinkled in its search results, with results driven by not only what the user has indicated interests in on the social network but also their friends. Rather than search being a universal peanut bowl, this latest move makes search more personable, serving up not only content friends have shared by content that might actually be useful to you.
The new approach weighs ties between relevance and social connections, with links shared by Google+ connections given a higher value, showing up on the first page of results right alongside the sharing person’s icon so you know where the suggestion comes from. Google+ posts will be shared according to keyword relevance, showing up only if the sharing user is one of your Google+ connections. Likewise, Google+ photos will show up in results as well, as long as the sharer is your friend.
For every social piece that appears in Google, you’ll be able to see who its from, why its shared and who its been shared with.
Dubbed by Google “search plus your world,” the social component of search can be easily toggled on and off with one click on the “person” and “world” icons in the top right corner of search results.
The move will also make it trickier to keep some photos and blog posts private, as results are returned along with the profile of the person who has shared the results. An ordinary user with a name like Paul Simon once got to hide behind the fact that they were not the singer. Now those results will be displayed along with their profile pict, making it slightly harder to hide that college beer bong shot from a perspective employer.
Google will promote certain Google+ accounts, displaying featured profiles and pages on the right side of the page, as well as a link explaining “how you can appear here too.” Though currently determined by algorithms, this feature will likely be used to give Facebook’s social ads a run for their money.
By integrating Google+ into its search, Google has taken the social media war up a notch with a move that will likely build a social graph as rich and likely richer than Facebook’s.