Google has announced an expansion of its Google Social Search results that’s beginning to roll out today on Google.com. Your friends’ activity on Twitter, Flickr and elsewhere — but for now, not Facebook — will soon be a lot more visible in Google’s search results, including having an impact on how pages rank.
Prior to today’s announcement, Social Search results — which Google introduced in October 2009 — only appeared at the bottom of a search results page or after clicking the “Social” filter in the left-side column. Now, you might see them mixed anywhere in the search results.
For example, if you’re connected to Google’s Matt Cutts and do a search for “climbing kilimanjaro,” you might see a blog post that he shared through a service like Twitter or Google Buzz quite high on page one.
In some cases, Google will simply be annotating results with a social search indicator, says Google’s Mike Cassidy, Product Management Director for Search. Google’s traditional ranking algorithms will determine where a listing should appear, but the listing may be enhanced to reflect any social element to it.
In other cases, the social search element will change a page’s ranking — making it appear higher than “normal.” This, I should add, is a personalized feature based on an individual’s relationships. The ranking impact will be different based on how strong your connections are, and different people will see different results.
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