Google Updates Social Search Results

google logo in Lego

photo credit: keso

Google launched social search back in 2009 to promote connections and what we shared. A search query yielded results from not only those that matched the algorithms of Google but down at the bottom of page 1 were results of those that we were connected with. Certainly our connections were sharing information that was worthy of appearing on page 1. Did we really ever scroll down that far or click on what they shared? Sometimes but for the most part they were down below and never really matched to what we were searching for as if they really were, what they were sharing would appear above. In recognizing that social search was a bit stagnant, Google has updated social search by placing the results into the main query results, providing they are relevant.

Google Updates to Social Search

Our connections matter as what they share on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn we notice, read, engage and share. They are a source to point us to articles, webinars, tutorials and new offerings. We rely upon them and the entire community on our most active social networks. We are connected and grow our community to interact and engage in real time and not having to query to find what they are sharing. However, as the number of searches continues to grow each month and the reliance upon the social platforms to provide us with the information we need.

Google social was starting to resemble Encyclopedia Britannica; always there to fall back on but never the first choice. The updates are hoping to change that and have us click on a result from a trusted connection by putting their shares into the mix of search queries. The update is actually enticing us to be more active on the social networking sites by targeting us to become focused upon keyword phrases and search trends in our own blogs and what we share.

What are the Updates and How do They Affect You?

The updates effect you through your activity and how Google uses social signals but also in how you, as a user, searches and receives results.

1. Blended Search Results. The search results just got a bit more social as the search results are now not only those that have done their homework of creating fresh and relevant content with authoritative links appearing in the top 10. Mixed in the middle are items from Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Blogger and other blogging platforms that your social circle have shared that are relevant to the query. The coveted 10 spots are now taking on a bit of a popularity contest insomuch as if a connection/someone in your social circle shares an article or website that matches your search query, they will appear in the top 10, just for being a connection.

It begs us to expand but yet at the same time doesn’t it beg us more to ask our social circle on other platforms to guide us? Well the delay in asking the question and waiting for results is not always time efficient. Jumping off Twitter and performing a search is more immediate and saves time. But does always saving time lead to efficiency? As as you can see below, a search query for marketing strategy gave results of what I shared, which happens to be from this website. This is not helpful as I pretty much know what I wrote on the site.

google updates social shares

2. Social Circle Credit. Google has added a caption/photo type credit. When a search result is from your social circle via a social media platform, they add what they are calling a “note.”  The note says where the connection shared from. The social circle updates are still in Beta are still showing only the connection on a Google platform regardless if you are connected elsewhere.

As we can see below, Ken and my connection is seen via Gmail however our connection on Twitter and other platforms is not seen. Does this really matter? Not really as when we think about growing a business and lead gen, they are not seeing what we are sharing in a search result on Google. In the industry, I suppose it could play the mathematics game of influence with Klout or a new game on Twitter where we see the gamers tweeting their social circle shares. (That even felt gross to type)

google disses twitter connections in social search

3. Public and Private Connections. Google is recognizing that all connections are not meant to be public so they have added a new feature of connecting privately. I spent some time with this but was unable to see how can create a private connection but I was seeking non Google account users. It is still new and Google did not give much insight into how we can have a private connection, so, should they, I will be sure to update. Publicly, you may notice that Google is asking you to connect to accounts that they have found that they, believe, are yours (through the information contained on your Google account). This is a prompt that you can accept or ignore. They ask you to opt in by acknowledging that it is you and also asking if you want to link or show the profile on your public Google account.

google connect accounts

photo credit: The Official Google Blog

Google Social Search Updates Video Tutorial

The Google videos are always packed with a chuck-full-of-information and, this one is no different. They point out that for the results to appear from your social circle (which means YOUR results to appear as well) users must be logged into a Google account. I have tested this, and yes, you do need to have a Google account in order to see the results blended of your social circle. If you do not want them to appear, simply log out of your account.
Is this a welcomed change? Sure, in the industry to have your popularity grow within your social circle but for lead generation and reaching your core audience of clients/customers I am not so sure. This does build referrals as the tweets do appear and seeing someone appear in search results does make you look at them closer.
Is Google testing the waters on a launch of GoogleMe on seeing if we click on the links of those that we are connected with? I think so as if by mixing the results into the search queries puts who we are connected to or not into the forefront. But then gain matching search queries to what our friends share is not always easy but also limiting as a twitter search yields the search term so we can connect. Right?
  • I don’t think I will really use all the social features of this new Google search, but I really appreciate their concern in privacy. Google hasn’t really good a good privacy history, after the Buzz incident, but with this move they show they care, offering a far more granular privacy control than, say, Facebook – I admit, talking about privacy and Facebook in the same sentence is kinda funny.
    I prefer to keep my Google searches separated by my Twitter ones anyway, but it’s just me.