Google searches will reflect more of what your friends know. The Mountain View, Calif., company is expanding its “social search” feature to show additional links created or shared by friends and make them easier to spot.
As its blog post explained yesterday, Google will no longer confine those social results — for example, Twitter updates or blog posts by friends — to a section at the bottom of a search page. (You still have to be signed in to the site to use this.) And instead of being limited to connections publicly displayed in your Google Profile, such as your Twitter account, social search — introduced in October of 2009 — can now benefit from connections you list privately in a new section of your Google Account. Google will also suggest that you add these accounts if it spots a username matching yours at sites like LinkedIn.
Google’s blog post doesn’t say this outright, but this move is best read as a defensive move by Google, part of its ongoing struggle to scrub search-optimized but uninformative “content farm” pages from its results. If you assume that friends don’t point friends to content farms, then a smart Web search ought to favor results from the people you know.
That does make it a little strange, as Danny Sullivan observes in a post at Search Engine Land, that Google’s upgraded social search leaves out the biggest social site of them all: Facebook. Other sites already offer Facebook-informed results — Microsoft’s Bing, for example, added this option in October.