Social Search : What Google+ is really meant to do

Google Social Logo
Image courtesy http://www.clickindia.com
Those of you who are regular followers of Google and have read my previous article titled Google Plus : The new DNA of Google , you must have observed that there was one  omission and it was obvious. I had listed 9 reasons and the tenth reason was missing. It was obvious and the tenth reason is Social Search.

From inception to implementation of Google+ one thing that the guys at the helm of Google+ would have been praying for must that Facebook doesn't start a search engine by themselves.

The reason was that Facebook was sitting on a treasure trove of social data of their customer base which Google didn't have.
Google should thankful,  for the Microsoft's deal with Facebook which I need now remind, was a miserable failure.  Quoting from my previous article, in the pre-Google+ era

Google was loosing the ground because the web world had moved on from paradigm of SEARCH - which was its strength to the paradigm of SOCIAL NETWORKING - at which it had miserably failed.
and the Google's ideal response would have been, like any pragmatic man would do, to use what you are good at(search) to foray into something that you want to be good at (social-networking). But Google came out with a master stroke. It combined both and thus gave rise to Social Search. But to do all these Google wanted time and that is what exactly the Facebook-Microsoft(Bing) deal gave them.

With all the time in their exposure Google worked out a good strategy for their Social Search. Google's social search strategy is a two layered one, and that is what makes it a more blended combination I would say. Infusing search in to social and infusing social into search.

1. Infusing Search into Social : With the vast experience that Google has in search, it will be carried on into their social endeavors making it easier for us to search the vast data that will be generated. It's already a breeze for us to search for our friends on Google+ as Google gives first preferences to people in our circles. next to people in our contacts and then other people with google profiles.

In some time(may be a few weeks from now) we will be able to search  all the public posts also. So next time you want to search for an article that was posted by your friend you don't need to go to his profile. Just type the the words from the article title in the search bar on Google+. What it means is Google is giving you an additional interface to search and it is a reducing one critical step(opening google.com in a new window) when you want search for something

And since google has a suit of its own applications, it might as well let you search for your documents, photos and videos. The reason being that when you are sharing something, it is highly probable that you will share one of your doc from google or a pic from picassa or a video from your youtube account.

2. Infusing Social into Search : Infusing search into social was just a necessity or a add on. The real fun lies in this part, infusing social into search. Search is what Google is good at, it is the search that should stay at the heart of the Google strategy. 

Though a lot of content will created from Google+, what we have to realize is that when a user creates some content on Google+, it is Google that makes money out of it. So the users who are looking at financial returns will still stick to their websites and blogs for content creation. But however Google+ will be used by the end users for content filtering(removing uninteresting content) and content delivery(getting links to relevant content). And content publishers will use it for promoting their articles.

But yes, as users start spending more time on Google+, google will start filling it with ads and monetizing it. But it will be a grave mistake on Google's part to assume it will be a dependable source of income. Social Networking is yet in its nascent stage and has been too whimsical to bet on. Friendster which was considered as the grand daddy of  social networking site was dethroned by Facebook in a very short span of time. With the release of Google+, Facebook which seemed to be infallible seems to showing up some cracks now and Twitter which seemed so relevant till now seems to obsolete, if Google+ goes on be successful. So in essence Social Networking is a fragile playground whereas Search has firm foundation. There has been nobody close to Google, on the search front. (Caveat : In the times to come as social networking gains momentum,  he who has the most social content and an average search algorithm will  have more chances of becoming the most successful Search Engine)

In infusing social into search Google has combine five micro-strategies.

1. Posts and shares from your friends : When you search for a keyword, content that is created or shared by people in your circles or extended circles will start getting higher priority. This has already started taking place in the name of personalisation and with Google+ it is only going to get rampant. It follows a simple logic that when your friends like something there is high chance that you will like it.

2. Google Plus One in search : This is one area Google scores over Facebook Like. WRT Facebook you should visit a website and the website must have implemented Facebook like for you to Like something. Or your friends must have shared the link on facebook for you to like it. But when it comes to Google, it scrawls almost all the sites and hence they show up in Google search. So in-spite of a site not implementing Google+ you can still Plus One it, which gives Google a major advantage. And your Plus Oned results not only make your friends search more relevant but also it helps you to check the results that you had Plus oned last time you had searched for similar keywords.

3. Google profile pics with search results : When Google renders the search results for you, it provides the profile pic as a link to the Google+ profile if any of your friends had shared that search result in prior or has authored it. Over the time Google author will help us link articles with authors and this will surely make our searches more meaningful. With a link to the Author's Google+ profile, it will make it more easier for people for add them to their circles in Google+ and get the updates.

4. Real time data : As the deal with twitter has come to an end. Google will very soon start featuring the real time updates from Google+ public posts. Adding a sense of dynamism and democracy to the search results.

5. Linking accounts : Based on your username and profile data Google comes out with a suggestion of  your probable accounts from various other sites and provides you with an option to link them up. Though it appears pretty naive and normal. Google is trying to position itself as your gateway for Internet.  Once you link your accounts, in the search results it highlights the links that you have shared on twitter or facebook. Though it appears to be egalitarian at first sight, Google might be pushing a little harder here. But it is a master move. Since social networking is a very fragile area, by linking the accounts

Google is just making sure that irrespective of who succeeds on the social networking front, it is just making sure that Google search stays social. 

Google is competing with the other services where it can and  collaborating with them where it can't.

which is commendable. So in this sense Google Search is the first Social Search. And google would be happy to position itself as the Best Social Search Engine irrespective of who get to rule the social networking world.

                                                                                                         Author : Gokul NK


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