Every time I write a post about a Google search update, it is always focused around things Google is doing to improve the way users can find relevant content quickly and easily. This post is no different. Just a few days ago, Google began rolling out an update that is taking social search to a new level. There have been many updates over the last few years in an effort to unite social and search, and we can only assume many more updates will come with the growing popularity of social media.
With this most recent update, if you are logged into your Google Account you may begin to see listings shared by your connections within the organic search results. (In the past, data from social connections was limited to the bottom of the search results.) These new social listings will be denoted with an additional line added to the listing, telling you which of your connections shared the link. As the image found in this Search Engine Land post shows, the listings from social connections are often given a higher importance.
This seems to make sense in that if one of your friends has shared a link related to your specific search term, you would likely be more interested in that link instead of one that does not have an “endorsement” by a friend or connection. Keep in mind that any listings as a result of this social search update will be specific to you (as your connections are going to be different than the next person looking for something similar). Google has access to tons of information on the web and these social search results can be pulled from your connections on sites such as Twitter, Flickr, FriendFeed, Picasa, Gmail, your Google Contacts, etc.
Other things to keep in mind are that you must have your social accounts connected to your Google Account. If you don’t link your social accounts in any way to your Google account, or if you are not logged in to your Google Account, you will not see these social search listings. Google will even assist you in connecting your social accounts if they find accounts that are specific to you (such as through the same usernames, etc). This way you can then easily link them to your Google Account.
There is a way to currently see who you are connected to through Google’s social circle page. You can build these connections by associating your social accounts with your Google Account as mentioned above. It will be interesting to see how this change to search results influenced by social media will evolve over time.