Google’s mission has always been to provide the best possible search results for their users, they recognise that that is how they established market dominance and to their credit they have not gotten lazy about maintaining that dominance.
But how do you provide relevant, useful, and personalised results for everyone based on their individual and unique preferences? Well in the last quarter of last year Google announced an experiment on Google Labs called Social Search.
Google has now unveiled their newest offering, which they’re calling “Search, plus Your World”. This is basically the result of their Social Search experiment with some new features. The nuts and bolts of the idea is that by offering “social” search results as well as the regular results, it will give the search results a more personal and more effect layer of information.
So what is Social Search?
Let’s say you got hit on the head and suddenly found Death Metal appealing, but you didn’t really know where you could go in Dublin to see a good Death Metal band playing. In days gone by chances are you would go to Google and type a search query along the lines of: death metal gigs Dublin January 10th.
In all likelihood you would then need to browse through numerous forums and possibly the odd Death Metal enthusiast’s blog or venue website. It is possible you will find the information because it is out there if you are persistent enough, however it will be time consuming and you will most likely end up taking a recommendation of a gig from someone you don’t know if you can trust on a forum you’ve never visited before.
With Social Search you will now also get some results which display information from your Social Circles. “Social Circle” is the term Google use to describe the people you know, are connected to on various publicly accessible social networks, your Gmail chat contacts, and through your Google+ Profile. People that are friends with your friends (2nd degree connection) are also part of your extended social circles.
So in this new world of Social Search, let’s say you have a friend who has a friend who is a hard-core Death Metal head, and they have posted an update on their Twitter page about a gig they are really looking forward to. This tweet will show up in Social Search, along with information about how you are connected to the person, so you now have a recommendation from someone that you can somewhat gauge the quality of the recommendation.
What this means for your business?
As I hope you can see from the example above Google have made a huge first step in search to not only understand content but also how people interact and their relationships to each other. A case might even be made that because of easier access to the information you are looking for, from your friends and connections, that your existing relationships will be strengthened online.
To my mind this development in search technology means that your customers will have quicker, easier access to the opinions of people they trust about your products and services. This can only place even more importance in monitoring what is being said about your brand on social networks like Google+ and Twitter.
To take it one step farther, the value of these “publicly accessible” social networks has increased with this development because the more active you are on them as a business now, the more likely you will be to show up in a connections social search results.
I’d love to hear how you think this development will change things for you in the comments below.
Will it have a positive or negative affect on your business? Will you be doing anything differently now?