News | 25/01/2012

Google overhauls their search engine to add social media content

Posted by Lawrence Greenlee

Google+, the search giant’s social media platform equivalent to Facebook and Twitter, is now being integrated into their search engine results, thereby potentially changing (they hope) the way you access information on the internet.

There is plenty of hype surrounding this new ‘+You’ service and rightly so, when you now search for something (providing you are signed-in to Google and searching in English) relevant Google+ results will appear above any ‘standard’ results.

What this means is that companies who have spent money on SEO (search engine optimisation) could potentially have their high page rankings change as Google rolls out this new search service.

Three new features are being introduced over the next few days:

  • Personally Tailored Results

Google says that general search engine results aren’t as meaningful as personally relevant content; very true, however in this instance Google means content and recommendations from your friends on Google+. Differing from ‘normal’ Google searches, the new content will display information unique to each user, as it is filtered on who you are and the friends connected to you.

An example Google uses is when you’re researching a holiday – posts from friends about their latest foreign escapades, along with any related photos and information will be shown on the results page above your generic results.

  • Friend Profiles in Search

This feature acts much like the ‘search bar’ on Facebook, bringing up appropriate friend profiles when you type the first couple of characters of their name (but obviously grabbing your Google+ friends first), however this presumably would also include links to their respective Facebook and Twitter pages if they have them. Prominent Google+ profiles relevant to your search could also be included.

Additionally the search function also adds your friends to autocomplete suggestions, for example if you were to type ‘Tim Cobb’ you may also get a suggestion for ‘Tim Cobb twitter’ which could then whisk you straight to his latest tweets.

  • Related People and Pages

If you search a topic that is frequently discussed by many others, this service will pull up their posts on said subject. So for example if you were to search ‘cooking’ then Google+ pages for Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsey could appear on the right hand side of the results page.

To Conclude…

Adding all this potentially personal information will mean that Google has to spruce up its security somewhat, which is exactly what they have done with all signed-in users being protected by SSL encryption (the same level of protection offered by most web-based e-mail services).

There will be an option to turn off the social settings so you don’t have to view them if you don’t want to. This function can be made permanent for logged on users via the ‘Search Settings’ options.

Whilst the Google+ social network is currently quite small at only 62m registered users (compared to Twitter and Facebook who have 100m and 800m respectively), the company hope that including their new results into searches will be a successful, albeit quite aggressive, way of marketing their social interface. It is very likely therefore that the amount of people using Google+ will rise significantly over the coming months.

Cobb Digital has researched the +You service and Google+ search functions extensively, so if you feel like it’s something that you or your company would like help with to boost search engine rankings and drive business to you, drop us a line or an email and we can discuss your requirements.