Google has recently added a new experimental feature that can make search results much more personal and relevant. The new feature called Google Social Search integrates results from your social circle based on your connections, as Google sees them.
Read on to learn how doing a social network search with Google Social Search works and how to use it.
Content from your social circle
Google Social Search adds content that is linked from your friend’s Google profiles to the search results. This content includes websites, blogs, public status updates (like Twitter and FriendFeed), other Google profiles and items from your feeds on Google Reader.
It is an opt-in experiment, so you have to turn it on to make it part of your search results.
Enable social search
Here is how to enable Google Social Search:
- Log in to your Google account (you always have to be logged in for social search to work).
- Go to Google Experimental.
- Click ‘Join this experiment‘ next to ‘Google Social Search‘.
From now on when you search Google it will also do a social network search and integrate results form your social circle at the bottom of the results page (from my experience that only happens when Google is set to display 10 results per page).
Get only social results
Alternatively, you can get only results from your social circle. Once you’ve enabled social search, it becomes one of the search filters available as part of Google’s New Search Features. In the results page, click “˜show options‘ under the Google logo and in the sidebar that opens click ‘Social‘. See an example of the results in the image below.
Asking help from friends
There are two advantages to getting these social results. First, it is somewhat more likely that they would be more relevant, at least in certain topics. For example, if you’re looking for something related to your field of expertise, your friends and people they know might have more relevant information.
Second, you do not only have access to the information you find, but possibly to the KNOWLEDGE the people who created it possess. Since the results include information about your relationship to the person who published the content, it might be easier to contact this person since you know him/her or know someone else who does.
Who’s in your social circle?
Your social circle is made up of your connections in various Google services. First, there are your social network connections, such as Twitter and FriendFeed. You have to list these social networks in your Google Profile for the people in them to be part of your social circle. Next, your circle includes people from your Gmail chat list and some of your Gmail contact groups. Finally, second level relations (friends of friends) are a part of your social circle – providing these relationships are public.
Note that if you do not list your social networks in your Google profile, or if you don’t have a lot of connections in them, you will probably not get too many social results.
On the other side, if you want your content (blog, videos and the like) to show up in your friends’ social search, you should list it in your profile as well.
Have you had the chance to try Google Social network search? Was it useful for you or just too much noise? Tell us in the comments!