The integration of social media posts into search engine results is a natural progression for enhancing search engine relevance and utility. We’re already seeing attempts at social search from Google and Bing as they pull Twitter and Facebook postings respectively into their results.

Google “Search Plus Your World”
In 2011, Google launched the Google+ social networking platform that is, in some ways, similar to Facebook. Google also added +1 boxes next to their search results to integrate Google+ more closely with its search engine.

Earlier this week, Google launched its next stage of social search. It’s latest platform update, dubbed “Search Plus Your World,” brings users signed into Google+ search results that pull pages that have been +1′d from people within their circles and displaying them above the normal organic results. You can see more in the video below.

Essentially, Google will determine the relevancy of results for a search user’s query based on the Google+ users they follow (which can range from brands and celebrities to friends and news outlets. Search results for Google+ users will now be completely unique results based on their community of circles and each community member’s consumption of content.

Social Signals Impacting Search Validity
As key social channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (another Google property) continue to evolve as major outlets for sharing and consuming content, it raises the concern of whether or not a consumer will truly be receiving the most relevant search results on Google.

Twitter specifically has evolved as a vital resource for real-time information, and has become the place for minute-to-minute breaking news.  More often than not, information shared within a real-time Tweet contains a more relevant search result than what Google can provide.  In the case of a breaking news story, an announcement made on Twitter will be more easily found on Twitter than on Google, as information takes time to be crawled and indexed by Google.  A lack of cooperation to share data between the two goliaths has forced a wider wedge between the holy grail of social search.

“Search Plus Your World” and the Google+ Agenda
With the release of “Search Plus Your World”, Google is trying to create its own definition of what we define as social search through Google+.  The biggest roadblock for Google’s success is the meager amount of Google+ users.  The slower adoption of Google+ users cannot compare to the number of Twitter or Facebook embracers.  Because of this, Google is basically slowing the evolution of search by almost forcing users into using Google+, versus trying to truly revolutionizing the way we receive search results and consume social media content today.

Are Personal Results an Invasion of Privacy?
In the long run, true integration with social outlets (primarily Twitter; as Facebook is already heavily vested with Bing), will eventually open up the floodgates for social search.  “Search Plus Your World” will probably not gain the traction Google hopes for, as consumers are already highly engaged in their other social media accounts.  There is also a concern around user privacy.

Regardless of whether or not “Search Plus Your World” works, the upside is the fact that Google+ is another way to drive the discussion around social search. Hopefully it results in cooperation between Google and major social players.

Related ContentGoogle+ Comes Full Circle with “Search Plus Your World”

::By Chris Blum, Digital Search Strategist

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