It seems that the major search engines have recognized the power of social media, not only by updating their algorithms to include real-time results from social feeds, but also by integrating personal input as a factor in returning results to their searchers.
Both Google and Bing have begun including social results in their search algorithms. Things you and your extended social networks have “liked” or shared are more likely to show up in your searches. Input from other users on your social graph will continue to affect the search results you are presented with, just as your own preferences will continue to inform the information you are presented with.
If I were to search something like “twitter and google”, I’d find that not only is there information about the partnership between the two, but also a Tweet that my best friend posted earlier this month.
Here’s how it started. Within a few hours of Bing announcing in 2009 that they were going to incorporate real time Twitter feeds into their search results, Google announced their own non-exclusive search deal with Twitter. Google has since proceeded to include a real-time feed of tweets in their results pages, allowing for up to the second crowd sourced information about what is happening enabled by Twitters 140 character microblogging platform.
Google has, in addition to including Twitter results in their “real time search results”, expanded their algorithm and results page to include the Twitter feeds and Flickr pages of a searcher’s friends. Social search results are then blended among the other results returned by their algorithms. The thought is simple people on the same social graph are likely to share commonalities- be they geographic, interests or matters of taste.
Furthermore, in December of 2010, Bing announced that they would be including Facebook “likes” as a part of their own search algorithm used to rank search results. This was important for several reasons, first because it signaled a major move toward more personally tailored search results. The thought being that were searching for “Metric” and you have liked that band on Facebook and shared a link to one of their Youtube videos, chances are that you are looking for the band and not the measurement system.
And secondly, the Bing-Facebook partnership is of note because this was the first time Facebook allowed a search engine a greater look into the tremendous piece of the private web that they own. Facebook and Google have been notoriously at arms with each other because of Facebook’s closed network- that doesn’t allow Google to index the tremendous amount of private data and internal pages on the site. This has been a major shift in strategy, and might also be signaling a Facebook shift to move outside of their walled off web property.
Google has also added Hotpot to their arsenal. The idea is simple, rate places you go, shop, eat, etc., by what you like and what you don’t like, then Google can suggest other things that you will like. Hotpot has also been incorporated into local searches, and has begun suggesting local businesses based on business you and your friends have rated.
So, when I search “brunch places lower east side”, chances are that my results will differ from your. It’s a matter of taste, and the integration of social search into Google’s algorithms.