Over the last few days Google made a significant change to it’s search algorithm. If you are now logged in to Google and perform a search it will give a strong weighting in search results to content provided by or linked to by your friends in your social graph. This could be people on Twitter, Flickr, through blogs and other public sources of data. This personalisation of search results is a trend that is set to continue. It’s about providing search results that are more relevant to you.
RottenTomatoes is a movie review site. Recently they integrated their data with Facebook so now when you look up movie reviews it pulls information from your social graph to display more relevant results. If some of my friends rated movies that I’m searching for I start to see this information. I also see other activity on the site related to my friends. Google is taking this a step further back by personalising results directly from search.
There is only one big problem for Google and that’s the new kid on the block – Facebook. How can you implement a real social search when you don’t have access to all the conversation from the 650 million people within Facebook. This is a big hole in Google’s strategy which they cannot resolve as there’s no way Facebook will ever give them access to this.
However, Facebook do have access to all the public sites that Google has so a social search within Facebook is always going to be more powerful. At the moment the search facility within Facebook is very basic. When you search it displays results from internally within Facebook, from Bing and it is also starting to deliver results from websites sites that are tightly integrated with Facebook. Watch this area expand and grow.
If you asked anybody in Facebook what they think about how good Google’s search is they are likely to completely disagree with how this search is implemented. Google’s machines index all the content and the search results are heavily influenced by Linking from external sites. However, Facebook believes in people indexing content not machines. On Facebook if someone clicks ‘Like’ on a piece of content or ‘Recommend’ that’s an extra vote for this piece of content. Of course if they click ‘Like’ Facebook also has access to information on who this person is, who are their friends, how influential they are etc and this could all be taken into account. The ‘Like’ button is a simple but very important steps towards social search. Watch out for Facebook over the next few months delivering a major upgrade to their search which will get people really thinking about Google’s number 1 position and how it is not guaranteed any more!
Have you noticed changes in search results recently?