February 18, 2011, 1:44 PM

Google makes search results more social

The search giant mixes more social content into its results.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Google Inc. is making its search results more social by weaving in content that a consumer’s social media connections have created or shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The effort builds on the social search feature that Google launched in 2009. However, in its earlier incarnation, the social results—links to content created or shared by social network friends—appeared at the bottom of a consumer’s results page. Now the results are mixed in with other results based on their relevance.

Below the social results Google will present annotations, highlighting who has shared the link, along with a small photo of that individual.

Only consumers who are signed in to Google will see the social results. And only consumers who have selected to publicly share a link will appear.

However, the new moves could change the results consumers see because a consumer’s social connections’ content can bolster particular products or brands’ rankings. For instance, if a consumer is searching for running shoes and his friend tweeted that he just got back from a run in his new Brooks shoes, that result might show up near the top of the results the searcher sees.

The search giant says the move is aimed at producing more relevant results for consumers.

“Relevance isn’t just about pages—it’s also about relationships,” wrote Google’s Mike Cassidy, product management director, and Matthew Kulick, product manager, in a blog post. “Today we’re taking another step forward—enabling you to get even more information from the people that matter to you, whether they’re publishing on YouTube, Flickr or their own blog or web site.”

Google says it is introducing new privacy settings to give consumers control over whether they want to reveal connections between their Google profiles and social networks.

The search giant began rolling out the feature yesterday and Google will present the social content on a growing number of search results pages in the coming week.

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