Social Signals In Search

Saturday, August 11, 2012
Grant Whiteside

Google’s CEO, Larry Page was talking this week at the latest Zeigeist Americas event. When questioned about social signals and how they should affect search visibility, he said, “It’s really important to know the identity of people so you can share things and comment on things and improve the search ecosystem, you know, as you – as a real person…I think all those things are absolutely crucial”

Google has worked hard to integrate Google + into peoples’ lives. They have stiff competition; Facebook has now over a billion active users and Twitter still dominate the real time social market with new innovations like their fairly unusable Twitter User directory, which is great if you want to see how many people have the same as you! I believe the plan was to make these profiles more ‘searchable’. Regardless; Google have a lot of catching up to do if they really want understand social signals in search. The latest update is a beta to align Gmail users search results onto the SERP’s whilst logged in.

Page continued, “That’s why we’ve worked so hard on Google+, on making [it] an important part of search,” he continued. “When you search for things, you want to know the kinds of things your friends have looked at, or recommended, or wrote about, or shared. I think that’s just kind of an obvious thing.”

Google+ may be like a gun to the head of companies that need to dominate their organic search space, the bottom line is; as unsocial as many of us are, we will all have to start using it in some form or another. Google need us to use it or their search results will always be swayed by algorithms rather than real user data.

So where do we draw the line? Do we really want Google knowing what we are really into and what we search for at a personal level, in order to get more relevant search results? Do Google deserve an even larger market share and is it actually in our own interests for one major search player holding the rest of the business world to ransom?

Larry Page may want us to share everything (apart from the Not Provided search data), but in this latest press release, I’m left asking why he really wants us to share and at what cost to us all in the long term.