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BizReport : Search Marketing : February 18, 2011

Google merges social with search results, excludes Facebook

The search engine this week announced that social search results will no longer linger at the bottom of the results page. Now they will be slipped in among other listings. But don't expect to see your friends' Facebook 'Likes' appear any time soon.

by Helen Leggatt

google logo.jpgSocial Search was debuted in 2009 and, in a nutshell, finds posts and activity from friends and displays them as search results when logged in to a Google account.

Until now, those social search results have been displayed separately to the main results. This has now changed with the recent announcement that the search engine will merge searchers' social media contacts' activities directly into search results.

Except Facebook activity - not surprisingly the search engine hasn't spent too much time on integration with this network, even if it is the world's largest and most-used.

According to Mashable's Ben Parr, "One thing this update doesn't include is Facebook "Like" data, a prominent feature of Microsoft Bing. Unlike Google, Bing has access to instant personalization and the user data behind Facebook's walled garden. As one of Google's archenemies, it's unlikely the search giant gave much serious thought to deep Facebook integration, instead choosing Quora, Flickr and Twitter as its inaugural integrations."

Some speculate that the move takes Google a step further towards a long-anticipated social network product all of its very own. VentureBeat's Anthony Ha believes "some recent upgrades to Google products suggest that the company is advancing with its social plans and may be laying the groundwork for the big launch."

Some pages may get a boost as the social search element can change a page's ranking based on the strength of connection to another individual, making a page rank higher than it would if social search was turned off.

With the emphasis consumers place on recommendations from friends and family, and social interaction, this move will certainly enhance the search experience and incorporate channels they value highly.

Tags: Google, search engine, search results, social

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