Google search results get more social
Everyone in Silicon Valley is waiting for Google to unveil its big strategy to counteract the rising influence of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are siphoning traffic and advertising dollars from search engines.
Disclaimer: This isn't it. But Thursday's announcement of new search features is part of a grander scheme to add a social layer to Google products.
Your friends' activity on Flickr, Quora, Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere on the Web will begin to pop up in search results within the next week, Google said Thursday. That activity will also influence how pages rank in search results.
"Relevance isn't just about pages — it's also about relationships," Mike Cassidy, a Google product management director, and Matthew Kulick, a product manager, wrote in a blog post.
Google has had what it calls "social search" since October 2009. But this tweak to social search will bring those results up from the bottom of the page and make it easier for you to find an article shared by a friend on Twitter or a question answered by a friend on Quora that is related to your search, for example.
As far as relationships go, the one between Google and Facebook could use some work. You will be able to find links to posts from friends all over the Web, but not from Facebook. Google executives have complained in the past about how Facebook has made it difficult for Google to import information from its service. Bing late last year added "Facebook Liked Results," allowing you to search Bing to see what your friends "liked" on Facebook in response to a search.
You can also now privately link your social networking accounts to your Google profile. Before those links were public, which may have discouraged some users. You will see search results from those networks if you are logged into your Google account.
Google has hired prominent entrepreneurs versed in social networking such as PayPal and Slide founder Max Levchin to help accelerate its efforts to make headway in social networking. Cassidy sold his company, an online travel guide called Ruba, to Google in May.
-- Jessica Guynn