The search giant Google has thrown its hat into the social networks ring. With social networks growing and expanding wildly, Google has decided to get its share of the action. It all started with the launch of Google’s Social Search as a beta for English speaking users. Social Search was previously in the Google Labs section. It displays its results at the bottom of the search window, and searches based on your list of contacts in Google, for relevant information to the topic you are currently researching.
It then posts whatever photos, posts, blogs or links the people in your social network have posted on your topic. An added feature allows your friends photos that relate to your topic to be published.
In a major update, Google has almost completely overhauled the Social Search network. The company has added Twitter, Flickr, and Quora to its servers, integrating all the information available on all those websites into one place. Now Social Search results will appear anywhere in the listing according to search relevance. Annotations will let you know when someone from your social circle has posted any kind of information relevant to your search, and on which website it was posted.
This will change the appearance and function of the search engine. Search results from the people in your networks can appear anywhere on the page, complete with photos. For example if you are searching for information on “babies” you might get links to your friends baby shots. This might be a good thing, but might get a little top heavy if too many people in your social network post on a topic. You will then find yourself having to wade through all the information, for that which is actually useful.
With the release of this update will come some changes as Google tries to blend the social networks into one big one. New links near the results will take you to your social network’s address book, and to a list of pages and links that might be relevant to your search topic. It is hoped this integration will streamline the social network experience as it continues to grow. But this is a beta product, and right now more emphasis has been placed on information then aesthetics so don’t expect a pretty picture all the time.
With the new and improved Social Search, users now have more control over their user options when it comes to connecting a public network to Google. Not only will users be able to connect publicly, but there is also a private option available for those wishing to be careful about who they expose their identity to. There is also a feature which suggests which networks are likely to be of interest to you based on your list of contacts, and the sites they are on.
As more and more people discover the wealth of information at their fingertips today, the more they turn to centralized places and services to find that information. Google is taking advantage of that fact, with this new move. One glaring exception to the rule here is Facebook. You won’t be seeing them here anytime soon though, they are contracted through Bing. But this is a step in the right direction for Google, who wants to expand on their share of the Internet market. Jokes have been made on other websites about how all the media websites were going to be combined into one. Well looks like Google is the one laughing the loudest now. They have fired the first shot in the social network war. Look for other popular search engines to try similar approaches.