Well, I’m now even more glad that I’ve been selective with who I friend and follow because Google just shoved everyone into my search results.
First, social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture:
To be fair, Google’s not just forcing these new social results on me–I have to connect my networks with my Google profile–but if you’ve connected your accounts, and not been selective in your friends, you’re about to see a lot more avatars in your SERPs. And Google’s about to get even more aggressive in getting you to connect your social networks:
In addition, if our algorithms find a public account that might be yours (for example, because the usernames are the same), we may invite you to connect your accounts right on the search results page and in your Google Account settings:
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. If we accept that the days of everyone seeing the same ten blue links are over, and, we accept that spammers are still going to want to try and get their craptent in front of you; what do you think is going to happen? My guess? Spammers are going to do their best to weasel their way into your social network so that they can push their content higher up in your search results?
Of course, Google’s not confirming that “shared” content will be given a boost in its search results:
So is Google using social signals to alter the actual results? Yes and no. In some cases they are, in some cases they’re not, Cassidy says. He declined to get into specifics, noting that it was a part of their special sauce. But he did say that there are several things that the algorithm now takes into account from a social perspective on top of all the other more traditional signals.
And when Google plays coy, it’s typically because we’re on to something it’s not quite ready to reveal to you, me….or the spammers.