Google’s Marissa Mayer has announced at the Web 2.0 Summit that Google Social Search will be launching in the coming weeks. I’ve seen an early release of it. It’s way cool. Below, what details we have now about this plus some follow up on today’s Google-Twitter search deal that was announced.
NOTE: Google Social Search is now live. See our Google Social Search Launches, Gives Results From Your Trusted “Social Circle” post.
I’m in a bind because I can’t say more about the product than what Mayer released today. I wasn’t able to make it to Web 2.0 nor were her remarks on the product broadcast live. TechCrunch was there and summarizes what she said this way:
There’s a new Google product called Social Search that is launching in Google Labs. This is a new feature that allows you to see results for queries from people in your social network. This works by using your Google Profile. If you fill it out with the other social networks you’re a member of, such as FriendFeed, Google will scan who you are connected to and give your results from those people.
For example, I have a Google Profile here. On that page, I’ve listed my Twitter account. This means when I’m signed into Google, it can tell who I am and what my Twitter account is with certainty. Then when I search, it can offer to show me web pages that are related to other people in my Twitter profile.
More specifically, if I were do to a search relating to journalism matters, because I follow a number of people in the journalism field (not everyone might see this Twitter List yet), I’d get back both “regular” search results as well as those that are from people who I follow. News.com notes that Mayer said these would appear at the bottom of regular search pages.
Other links from social sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn could also be added to your profile (any link can be added to it). To the degree Google can see your network, those can be used to filter your results.
Our Search 4.0: Social Search Engines & Putting Humans Back In Search article from last year talks more about how search results potentially can be influenced by your friends in general, plus it revisits the personalization that Google already does based on your own behavior. In some ways, the new social search that’s coming is like personalized search extended to tap into your friends and followers network.
I wish I could get more specific, but as I said, I’m limited to the details already released (and everything above is based on what’s out there from Google itself). I wish even more that I had some screenshots to show. But when I saw it last month, I joked on Twitter that I had a Scoblesque tear running down my cheek. OK, it wasn’t THAT awesome. But it was pretty impressive. I don’t see a lot of things that make me go “wow,” that’s useful. This did.
The social search product also predates today’s news that Google has a partnership with Twitter to tap into its data. That means Social Search doesn’t depend on the Twitter deal, but it certainly should help.
What exactly will Google do with the Twitter data. Are we getting a dedicated Twitter search engine like Bing Twitter Search launched today?
Google’s kind of cagey on that front. Mayer said at Web 2.0 that it will be integrated in to regular results. But what’s that mean? Integrated only using Universal Search, which could mean there’s also standalone Twitter search engine out there (just as there’s a standalone image search, news search, blog search and so on)? Integrated to use Twitter data as part of the core ranking data?
I couldn’t get clarity on whether there will be a standalone Twitter search. Personally, I think there will be, or that there will be a combined microblog search service. We know Google has at least gotten people to translate a name for that service.
Whether that type of dedicated search for microblogged content service gets integrated into the completely different Social Search service that refines results on your social network remains to be seen.
Certainly Google sees the microblogged content as something that needs to be gathered and somehow integrated alongside web pages. Johanna Wright, director of product management at Google, talked to me today about this.
“There are things on Twitter that you can only find on Twitter,” she said, especially local happenings that might never see an actual news article written about them.
One example Wright gave, of stories she says Google is collecting, was about an art project where 2,000 “invisible dog” leashes were handed out in Manhattan. You know, those solid leashes that look like you have an invisible dog holding them up? No one wrote a news article about this, but if you were trying to figure out what was happening if you saw people with them, the information was blogged on Twitter.
“Typically, there’s not going to be a news story on this,” Wright said. “So most people wouldn’t know why everyone around them has invisible dogs. This is the kind of information that can be found on Twitter.”
I agree. Our What Is Real Time Search? Definitions & Players article goes into more depth about microblogged content and its value to regular search. But there’s also the other major aspect, mining data of URLs that people are tweeting. Is Google planning much there?
“I think you can use them both. One thing to highlight is the background signal from Twitter, whether or not a story is breaking at Google, we have a number of signals that will tell us when a story is fresh,” Wright said.
Take That, Twitter: Google Hot Trends Integrated Into Google Search is another article from us that covers a primary signal that Google has if something is a hot topic — actual searches on Google that happen. And while Google’s has a “query deserved freshness” algorithm that can very quickly find new pages and rank them in top results, Twitter’s data potentially could make that even faster.
Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.
For related discussion, see news on Techmeme.