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Google Rolls Out Social Search

 4:51 pm on May 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google Social Search Rolls Out [googlesocialweb.blogspot.com]
Today, we’re bringing Social Search to more users around the globe.

Just like on google.com, social search results in other languages and on other domains are mixed throughout the Google results page based on their relevance.
Social Search can help you find pages your friends have created, and it can also help you find links your contacts have shared on Twitter and other sites. If someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a link, we may show that link in your results with a clear annotation. So, if you’re looking for information about modern cooking and your colleague Adam shared a link about Modernist Cuisine, you’ll see an annotation and picture of Adam under the result. That way when you see Adam in the office, you’ll know he might be a good person to ask about his favorite modern cooking techniques.

So how does this all work? Social search results are only visible to you and only appear when you choose to log in to your Google Account. If you’re signed in, Google makes a best guess about whose public content you may want to see in your results, including people from your Google chat buddy list, your Google Contacts, the people you're following in Google Reader and Buzz, and the networks you’ve linked from your Google profile or Google Account. For public networks like Twitter, Google finds your friends and sees who they’re publicly connected to as well. You can see a complete list of the people included in your social search results in your personal Google Dashboard (this display is private).



 4:02 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)


Google has no access to Facebook, Bing has, so Google social recommendations are very limited for now.

Longer term, this is probably another way for Google to get webmasters to promote G's social products by spamming them, asking friends to join, rec their sites etc. Once they reach the mass, then they will start cracking down on spam.

Not to long ago Google pushed the idea that Google profiles pass page rank. Why ;) ?


 4:58 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Taking a ten-year perspective, I find this funny.

Circa year 2000, Google invented PageRank, based on linking.
Circa 2010, natural linking ceased to exist.

In the year 2012, Google invented Social Search, based on social networks.
Let's see for 2022 :)


 6:22 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

They micro-managed their search to uselessness. Isn't there simple search any more? Or, what are the numbers of people going to Advanced Search these days - people like me.

Seriously, this feels like 1990s era fad chasing when you're 2 steps behind.

It's like watching a relative ruin their own life and you can't do anything to stop them because they know better.


 6:52 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

bing/facebook is much more social than google/twitter but even bing/facebook won't help ....
most of people don't have much friend on facebook to get good result :P


 9:10 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see anyone impressed with the idea.

Is this a step too far?


 9:51 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm really surprised by how negative most of you are to this change. Social signals are clearly useful sources of content valiadation for Google, as links are. So, attempting to factor these in to both the unpersonalised results - as we know Google is doing already - and the personalised results seems an obvious way to improve the relevance and quality of a user's experience.

I appreciate that the personalised version is dependent on the 'quality' of the social connections Google can establish for you, but I don't think there is anything wrong with the principle.

In my short experience of it this morning, I saw two results ranking higher than normal in my personalised results with little gravatars and the names of the individual from my social circle who shared it. Both of these improved relevance of the results for me. I know it is a tiny sample. But I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt for a while and see what impact it has.


 10:13 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm really surprised by how negative most of you are to this change.

I'm guessing that many do not like change being forced upon us by a machine over which none of us have any control whatsoever.

Better technology for my benefit, my company's benefit, for the benefit of mankind I do not have an issue with, but when someone wants to sit on my shoulder and tell me "this is what all your "friends" are doing and saying, you should be doing it as well", as a resident of Elbonia that just bugs the hell out of me as an individhual.

Seriously, I consider it an invasion of my privacy, I don't want it and do everything I can to avoid interaction with it but if others do and use it, fine I have no objection, just do not expect me to be in your extended list of "friends".


 10:43 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

It seems that the answer to all search queries will soon be "ask your friends".

They'll just tell me to 'Google it'. :-(


 10:49 am on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm really surprised by how negative you all are to this change

I think a lot of it depends on how one defines the words "quality" and "relevance".

Don't forget that this is a forum for webmasters, many of whom are already dismayed to see their own sites outranked in the SERPs due to factors other than the quality and relevance of their content. Many of them will remember "life before Google" and how the new kid on the block seemed to be so much better at finding the best quality information on the web (admittedly a much harder task these days).

To some extent I see this as an admission by the major search engines - both Google and Microsoft - that they really cannot determine quality of content through so-called artificial intelligence, and are losing the war against spammers.

People have widely varying search habits, and no doubt some will find that the inclusion of results based upon what their "friends" (or, more accurately, their online acquaintances) think and do to be an improvement. Others will see it as dumbing down to the lowest common denominator, which may well be a successful strategy in business terms but has nothing to do with quality of information.

For myself, I am not a believer in the "wisdom of crowds". I prefer expertise.

Being rather "anti-social", though, my searches should not be overly affected.



 12:05 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

i doubt that this has anything to do with improving the quality of the SERPs. its probably more of a marketing thing, i would imagine. if people know that their friends' results will appear in the SERPs then they might go and have a look. and then all their friends will have a look, and then their friends too. and google ends up with more users.

at the end of the day google just wants more users and visits. if they can do it by improving the SERPs, great. if they can do it with social stuff like this, that's great as well. it's all the same to them.


 12:07 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

If it's only for those logged in to Google account, that should minimize the impact.

Google - for the record, I don't WANT to know what my friends like. My friends have bad taste ;)!


 12:21 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't WANT to know what my friends like. My friends have bad taste ;)!



 2:02 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

i want to explore the world's information independently. better have no friends that the big networks can detect.

There are a bunch of signals the search engines can use to tailor your results, even if you aren't logged in or taking part in social networks. So there are no independent, unbiased results any more. I think this is a shame, but apparently people who think this way are in the minority.

What this opens up is an opportunity for an entirely new, unbiased search engine which doesn't go in for personalisation at all. No geolocation, no language preferences, no social, nothing. Everyone sees the same thing no matter what their setup.


 2:25 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

an entirely new, unbiased search engine which doesn't go in for personalisation at all

I think the nearest you're going to get to that at the moment is DuckDuckGo:


Are there any others?


 2:47 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see anyone impressed with the idea.

We're also not normal here. You know that. Our little world here on WebmasterWorld is not necessarily representative of the world at large, no matter how much we may think it is.


 2:51 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

We're also not normal here.

I agree, I'm unique, just like everyone else:-)


 3:05 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

As a Webmaster and business owner, I have learned that Google is going to do what it wants to benefit its own goals, not my own.... I don't hold that against them at all.

As a Webmaster, SEO, and business owner... my job now, is to now figure out how to be like Kevin Bacon and get this whole six degrees of contact thing working for myself and those who hire me to work for them, so I can be in front of a higher degree of search queries.

So, hypothetically, If I find a way to become more social and make more friends, and ask them to make sure their friends are my friends, and then start asking to like my stuff... is Google going to penalize me for being too popular? What if a bunch of my old friends find me at the same time? Can I get penalized for having too many friends too quickly? Will Matt Cutts and Google eventually come out with a statement that reads "Google is Completely Against making more friends to game the Algo" or, "People who own websites with a high number of non-local or un-related friends may be penalized in search".

Serious.. think about it. Back in the day... backlinks were signals of importance also. Look at em now, just ASKING for a backlink is almost against the Goo-rules, they should all be natural! I realize this may be taken as funny and sarcastic, but it does have a realistic hint to it. There are probably entire companies in India right now, looking for ways to create "Social Friendship Wheels" or "Back-Scratch Friend List" packages to start gaming the latest change.

A $250/week "friend budget" at a place like fiverr or turk could easily net thousands of interlinked social friend networks, that would eventually put YOUR websites in front of their friends.


 4:18 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

The reason that Google needs social media is because its original link based rank system has been gamed to hell and back. In the late 1990s, against a largely static search engine industry, that was an innovation. But now when people understand the importance of links, Google is being gamed every day by people who get unsuspecting site owners to add links to their sites. Faced with a resurgent Microsoft, Google is getting some idea of what it was like to be Netscape.



 4:33 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

We're also not normal here. You know that. Our little world here on WebmasterWorld is not necessarily representative of the world at large, no matter how much we may think it is.

I am perfectly normal and I don't claim to represent the world. As Husky mentioned, it is just that I am different and I don't thing this new social focus will benefit users. Not me for sure.

Google was always praised by many for everything it did and changed in the past.But the game has changed in the past couple of years, though google or some may claim that the world still loves everything they do.

The bottomline is they do have a lot of critics now and this will keep growing in numbers.


 8:24 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

True, we're different and we may have a bias ("I know how to cheat on links or I already have many links but social is...") but this is flawed. If you have FB /Twitter you already get the crap that your friends post, including the cereal they like. And the sample is way too small to help someone in a meaningful way. Not everyone spends every second on Twitter trying to become a superstar (in their mind.)

Social can be gamed even worse than links, at least now.


 9:25 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the nearest you're going to get to that at the moment is DuckDuckGo:Are there any others?

I'm surprised more people don't use
[s c r o o g l e.org...]

Google w/o the fluff.


 11:00 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see anyone impressed with the idea.

I think a lot of it is because there is a general, and possibly justified, cynicism regarding Google's motives right now. A general consensus that they are trying to drive traffic through their own products. My initial reaction to this Social Search news was tainted by that thought but having mulled it over...

...it's maybe not something I will value but I am glad they are trying it. Search, well everything, evolves and to evolve you need to try new things. If it doesn't work out, well I am sure it will fade away.

Also, you will presumably have to be logged in to see this in action. So to all intents and purposes it's optional.

I'm all for seeing it in action myself so I can decide in real time. I must admit I have never taken any notice of the extra panels in SERPS (tweets and stuff) with the exception being Google News filters on current topics of interest. The rest just hasn't got my attention yet.

Who knows, this might be different. Don't know til you try.


 11:14 pm on May 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

How many years will it take for an algo change slapping down all the websites that have a lot of "Likes" and "Friends" = ?


 6:41 am on May 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

onepointone, How does [s c r o o g l e.org...] help with the results? I think it just blocks the ads.


 7:35 am on May 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

My target market is found in Facebook (whose isn't), somewhat in twitter and only a minority will have a google account. I don't expect this new google feature to have much effect on my main site.


 11:31 am on May 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have been deeply involved in social for over 2 years now with our biggest property. Does it have it's place? Yes but for the most part social is completely overhyped.

After heavy investment and large amounts of highly quantified data I can conclude social is 99.93% hype for our niche, and our niche is in the top 5 traffic wise. Traffic generated is borderline worthless and we have seen almost no ROI in any of the traditional measurements.

Im sorry but "social" seems to be brought to you by the same people that made the "information super highway" bubble that exploded back a little over a decade ago.

Ex girlfriends from 20 years ago bragging about implants or play by play updates of what the baby did today or old buddies bragging about the house,car,wife,girlfriend,boat,insert here, just doesnt equate to useful traffic for us.

In terms of a raw branding vehicle it is way overpriced. Have fun with these stocks because they will most certainly end up like...


 12:28 pm on May 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see anyone impressed with the idea.

I'll add myself to that list. Great thread by the way.


 12:47 pm on May 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've looked at Facebook and Twitter to see what my competitors, some of whom are big players in my niche, are doing on those sites. They get viewership when they're announcing a sale of some sort, although even then it's light. The rest of the time, there doesn't seem to be much interest in them at all.

My niche is probably more irrelevant to the social sites than others, as it appeals to a generally older demographic, or at least not one that hangs out on social sites to chatter with each other.

My demographic does well on niche-related forums where people are asking technical, widget-related questions, and legal questions.


 12:51 pm on May 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Irrespective of immediate ROI, there has to be branding advantages in Social. When you see your friend's liked something or recommended something, you may not necessarily follow their lead now but that brand's name is at least on your radar.


 7:52 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

The other day, I told an acquaintance about Amazon's affiliate program. The next day, she emailed me and asked me for a link. It took more time to email me than it would've taken to type "amazon affiliate program" into the search bar and hit Enter.

I think it's true that many people would rather ask their friends than a search engine. But, hello, those people are too busy asking their friends to notice what Google's up to lately. If they ask friends first, and only turn to Google when friends fail them, than having Google tell them to talk to their friends isn't going to inspire confidence, is it? And if you're the sort who checks Google first, then goes to friends when Google fails you, this new set up might just get you off Google faster than before. So... not getting how this is a good idea? Or a good execution.

I'm not against social signals affecting the algo - they can be a meaningful indicator for rankings. But I don't see how this is going to do Google any good.


 10:47 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

But I don't see how this is going to do Google any good.

I'd think it would have a 'watering down' effect on google. Getting them away from what they do (did) best.

Like ebay moving towards pushing sellers of mass produced stuff that you can buy a 100 other places on the web.

How does [s c r o o g l e.org...] help with the results? I think it just blocks the ads.

I don't know, but I don't seem to see my "personalized" results when I use it.

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