Late last year we released the Social Search experiment to make search more personal with relevant web content from your friends and online contacts. We were excited by the number of people who chose to try it out, and today Social Search is available to everyone in beta on google.com.
We’ve been having a lot of fun with Social Search. It’s baby season here on our team — two of us just had little ones, and a third is on the way. We’re all getting ready to be parents for the first time and we have lots of questions. So, what do we do? We search Google, of course! With Social Search, when we search for [baby sleep patterns], [swaddling] or [best cribs], not only do we get the usual websites with expert opinions, we also find relevant pages from our friends and contacts. For example, if one of my friends has written a blog where he talks about a great baby shop he found in Mountain View, this might appear in my social results. I could probably find other reviews, but my friend’s blog is more relevant because I know and trust the author.
While we’ve been enjoying Social Search (and having babies), we’ve been hard at work on new features. For example, we’ve added social to Google Images. Now when you’re doing a search on Images, you may start seeing pictures from people in your social circle. These are pictures that your friends and other contacts have published publicly to the web on photo-sharing sites like Picasa Web Albums and Flickr. Just like the other social results, social image results appear under a special heading called “Results from your social circle.” Here’s what it looks like:
Looking at the screenshot, you may notice two new links for “My social circle” and “My social content.” These links will take you to a new interface we’ve added where you can see the connections and content behind your social results. Clicking on “My social circle” shows your extended network of online contacts and how you’re connected.
Clicking on “My social content” lists your public pages that might appear in other people’s social results. This new interface should give you a peek under the hood of how Social Search builds your social circle and connects you with web content from your friends and extended network. You can check out your social circle directly by visiting this link. (Note that it may take some time for the connections and content to update.)
We think there’s tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. We’re leaving a “beta” label on social results because we know there’s a lot more we can do. If you want to get the most out of Social Search right away, get started by creating a Google profile, where you can add links to your other public online social services. Check out this short video to learn more:
The new features are rolling out now on google.com in English for all signed-in users, and you should start seeing them in the next few days. Time to socialize!