More Google Social Search Results

When Social Search was released, Google displayed a small OneBox at the bottom of the first search results page that included relevant pages shared by your friends. A few weeks ago, Google started to show social search results anywhere on the page.

If that wasn’t enough, Google added huge lists of social search results at the bottom of the second, third and fourth page of results. After the ten regular results, Google shows other ten results from your social circle. Sometimes Google’s social results are useful, but that’s not always the case. For example, a search for [Firefox 4] returns many outdated pages about Firefox.


It’s interesting to notice that social search results need more space than the regular results:

Google Social Search, a Recommendation Engine

Google Social Search is not a new feature, but it wasn’t that important until now. Google used to display at the bottom of the search results page a few links to pages created or recommended by your friends and social connections. The feature automatically obtained data from Google Reader, Google Buzz, Gmail Contacts, Twitter and other sites linked from your Google profile.

Google’s blog announced that Social Search will be used to enhance Google results and will become a ranking signal. Social Search borrowed Hotpot’s interface that annotates results with messages like “Dan rated this place 5 stars”, so you can see why a page ranks so high.


“Social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture,” explains Google.

Sometimes a web page is more valuable if it has been recommended by a friend because you probably trust that person. Google uses data from your Google account or publicly available data to generate a list of social connections, but you can’t highlight the people you trust or customize the list. What you can do is to add links to your Google profile and to import data that’s not publicly available. The Google Accounts page will include an option that lets connect your accounts from services like LinkedIn and import your contacts.

An update to Google Social Search

First, social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture:

Social search results can rank anywhere on the page, and you’ll see who shared the result in the annotation underneath


Second, we’ve made Social Search more comprehensive by adding notes for links people have shared on Twitter and other sites. In the past, we’d show you results people created and linked through their Google profiles. Now, if someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a link, we may show that link in your results with a clear annotation (which is visible only to you, and only when you’re signed in). For example, if you’re looking for a video of President Obama on “The Daily Show” and your friend Nundu tweeted the video, that result might show up higher in your results and you’ll see a note with a picture of Nundu:

Now Social Search includes links people share on Twitter and other services


Third, we’ve given you more control over how you connect accounts, and made connecting accounts more convenient. You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now we’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account. (After all, you may not want everyone to know you’re @spongebobsuperfan on Twitter.) In addition, if our algorithms find a public account that might be yours (for example, because the usernames are the same), we may invite you to connect your accounts right on the search results page and in your Google Account settings:

The new setting enables you to choose whether or not to show your connected accounts publicly on your Google profile


For an overview of Google Social Search and our new features, check out the explanatory video:

As always, you’ll only get social search results when you choose to log in to your Google Account. We’re starting to roll out the updates today on Google.com in English only and you’ll see them appear in the coming week. With these changes, we want to help you find the most relevant information possible, personalized to your interests and the people you care about. To learn more, check out our help center.

Posted by Mike Cassidy, Product Management Director, and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager Permalink