There has been a lot of buzz around social media and the evolution of social networks. The latter half of last year had people talking about “Google Me” and later, “Google +1” as Google’s entrance into the social world. Google had commented that they were not attempting to replicate the social experience of Twitter or Facebook, but instead, they would bring social functionality to their core products. If we take a look at how Google has integrated social media into their products within the past few months, Google Places and Google Hotpot are clearly key components of a larger strategy.
But it doesn’t stop there. Google has recently updated their Social Search feature, originally launched back in 2009, now putting more emphasis on the integration and relevancy of social connectivity and how it applies to Google Search.
The changes in search results are broken into three distinct parts. First, social search results will be blended with traditional content – they are no longer present only at the bottom of search results. Second, social results will be pulled from a variety of different sources, from social networks to blogs. Google really is showing that content is king, and good content is truly rewarded. Third, users have the option of controlling what social sites are linked to their Google profile and whether that information is publically displayed or not.
Seeing is believing. Below is socially blended result.
In this example Matt Cutts has linked his personal blog to his Google profile, and the results are shown with other search results rather than stuck to the bottom of the page. To add even more relevancy, search results will also contain content that is shared, not created, by those in your social circle.
Google has previously focused on content that your friends have created, however that is now expanding to content that your friends share.
Google has also given more control over account connectivity, making connecting accounts more convenient. You can connect your accounts publicly on your Google profile, however you can also connect them privately in your Google Account. Additionally, Google will also suggest social accounts that may belong to you, and it may invite you to connect those accounts on the search results page and within your Google Account.
The Evolution of ‘Google Me’?
Does it make sense to build another social network? Google’s approach of using social as a bolt on component of search isn’t surprising – it makes much more sense to connect products and services rather than creating an entirely new system directed at social interaction.
Google’s intent with search is to create the best search experience possible for their user; personalization is the natural route to make that happen. Google will look at the various social networks you’re connected to and it will provide you with content based on who created or shared it. And it doesn’t stop there; Google is planning an algorithm advancement that will also look at content shared by friends of friends.
The best part of Social Search is that all content is being pulled from publicly available websites. Your friends don’t need to have a Google profile for their social content to show up in your search results. By connecting with them on Twitter and then connecting your Twitter account, you will see what they post and share on Twitter within your search results.
Creating a new social network outright doesn’t seem like an effective strategy, especially if you consider Google’s global mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. By adding social components to existing products, they’ve successfully added another trigger to creating a highly relevant search experience.