Social search from Google – what does it mean for search results

Google has recently announced a new social search feature which is launching on initially, which allows for users to use a ‘+1’ button to show whether a search result or ad in Google was helpful. These search results will appear in your search results page with the ‘+1’s visible, clearly indicating to others that these are the most effective (or most liked) results and ads.

Linking these ‘+1’s to your network such as your Gmail contacts, will allow you to see whether anyone you know in your network has found the search result or ad useful. This might lead to improved quality of traffic to sites, and provide more insight into the effectiveness of adword campaigns on Google.

This feature is currently being used on and in English only, but it will be interesting to see how this changes search for the future in other markets as well.

It will also be interesting to see how effective the ‘social’ aspect of this is, when contacts in Gmail aren’t necessarily your social group of friends or trusted referrers, so how the results appear and how well-tuned they are, will be an important factor to get right in order for this to be truly adding value for most users.

It will be important to look out for how well this works in the early markets and what impact this might have on search effectiveness, relevance, clicks and of course, the costs to business trying to come to grips with the ever-changing search landscape.