It’s been clear for some time that Google’s greatest rival was never going to be Yahoo, Bing or the combination thereof. Instead, the explosion of consumer generated content where the user IS the product is the greatest threat to even a behemoth such as Google. Enter Facebook.
Google’s social facelift from Buzz to Google+ in June 2011 was its latest attempt at getting social right in the hopes of turning billions of searches into a social network, thus locking users onto Google instead of straying elsewhere.
In fact, Google has been trying to get ‘personal’ since June 2005 when based on personal behavior and interests, results would be given a boost. By February 2007, personalized results were expanded and repackaged and by December 2009 by default, Google would show you personalized results whether you opted in or were signed in, or not. Social search results entered onto the scene in October 2009 which were not only personalized but were based on people you know, rather than the searcher’s own behavior.
Google’s integration of social and regular search results came February 2011. It expanded to include not just content created by those you know but also content shared by them through a variety of social networks.
Henceforth, the intersection of private, public, personal and social was born…
While Google+ is still in its infancy, it’s wasting no time being integrated with other Google experiences. In January 2012, Search plus Your World emerged, which finds both content that’s been shared with you privately along with matches from the public web, all mixed into a single set of listings. You’ll know it when you see it as a Google will alert you with a message like this above your search results:
While this convergence is underway there is no shortage of questions and user privacy concerns bubbling to the top not unlike those which surfaced surrounding the Facebook Timeline. Time will tell how this plays out.
In the meantime, the prominence Google is placing on Google+ and Search plus Your World is giving rise to a new way marketers must look at their Search + Social strategy. Here are a few ways to take advantage of the emerging space as excerpted from Search Engine Land: