February 18, 2011

Google’s search results get more social

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.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land