The Globalization of Social Search

In 2009 we first introduced Social Search on as an experimental feature designed to help you find more relevant information from your friends and the people you care about. Since then we’ve been making steady improvements to connect you with more people and more relevant web results. Today, we’re bringing Social Search to more users around the globe.

Just like on, social search results in other languages and on other domains are mixed throughout the Google results page based on their relevance. For example, if you’re looking for information about low-light photography and your friend Marcin has written a blog post about it, that post may show up higher in your results with a clear annotation and picture of Marcin:

Social search results can rank anywhere on the page, and you’ll see who shared the result in the annotation underneath.


Social Search can help you find pages your friends have created, and it can also help you find links your contacts have shared on Twitter and other sites. If someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a link, we may show that link in your results with a clear annotation. So, if you’re looking for information about modern cooking and your colleague Adam shared a link about Modernist Cuisine, you’ll see an annotation and picture of Adam under the result. That way when you see Adam in the office, you’ll know he might be a good person to ask about his favorite modern cooking techniques.

Social Search includes links people share on Twitter and other services.

So how does this all work? Social search results are only visible to you and only appear when you choose to log in to your Google Account. If you’re signed in, Google makes a best guess about whose public content you may want to see in your results, including people from your Google chat buddy list, your Google Contacts, the people you’re following in Google Reader and Buzz, and the networks you’ve linked from your Google profile or Google Account. For public networks like Twitter, Google finds your friends and sees who they’re publicly connected to as well. You can see a complete list of the people included in your social search results in your personal Google Dashboard (this display is private). For an overview of Google Social Search, check out the explanatory video:

Social Search is rolling out globally in 19 languages and should be available in the coming week, with more languages on the way. People around the world will find similar types of social results as people in the U.S., and we plan to introduce the +1 feature as soon as we can. With these changes, we want to help you find the most relevant information from the people who matter to you.

Where 2.0 2011 – Day One

Where-logo.jpgI’ve attended a few sessions so far at Where 2.0 today, with more to come. I’ll keep this posted updated throughout the day.

While most of the information today is focused more on location-based services like Foursquare, there is certainly some interesting stuff being shared.

The first session was “Mining the Geo Needles in the Social Haystack” by Matthew Russell

He showed off some interesting tools, such as the ability to turn a list of locations (like this one) through the tool at to generate a KML file like this one. Very slick.

He then covered ways to use mine geo data from various services such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. As an example, you can see how oAuth works with Facebook on this sample page.

Finally, he showed some ways to extract location data from natural language for cases where geo-coded data isn’t available. Considering this is the vast majority of data out there (text on websites, text messages, etc), it’s a valuable tool to develop. For some tools that work on that, check out

Next I checked out “Why Data Collection Must Extend Beyond the Check-in“, presented by Scott Hotes and Mohit Gupta from Location Labs.

They worked on showing a detailed breakdown of what “check-in” really is, covered the growing issue of fragmented place databases and how they all differ, and some ways to track phones (with consent) in various scenarios such as check-ins, parent/child tracking, etc.

Next was “Hands on Map Scripting” by Adam DuVander (@adamd) of ProgrammableWeb.

He spoke a bit about the new changes we’ve seen over the last few years in regards to mapping APIs (more mobile, etc), but spent most of the time walking us through Mapstraction. Mapstraction is a very cool way to write code for a single map that will work acorss a variety of mapping APIs (Google, Bing, etc). If you write any mapping code for a site, it’s something you need to check out.

Next was “Getting Started with Google Maps and Fusion Tables” by Kathryn Hurley and Mano Marks. After Mano gave us an overview of Fusion Tables, then Kathryn walked us through creating a basic Fusion Table ourselves. Even better, they’ve provided the full tutorial if you’d like to walk through it yourself! There’s quite a lot of power in this feature, and the tutorial is a great way to get started.

Later this evening I’ll check out the various “Ignite” sessions, where many groups will be quickly showing off their ideas.

Google: Introducing the +1 Button

We all know what it’s like to get a bit of help when you’re looking for it. Online, that advice can come from a number of places: a tweet, a shared video, or a blog post, to name a few. With Google Social Search we’ve been working to show that content when it’s useful, making search more personally relevant.

We think sharing on the web can be even better–that people might share more recommendations, more often, if they knew their advice would be used to help their friends and contacts right when they’re searching for relevant topics on Google. That’s why we’re introducing the +1 button, an easy way for Google users to recommend your content right from the search results pages (and, soon, from your site).

+1 is a simple idea. Let’s use Brian as an example. When Brian signs in to his Google Account and sees one of your pages in the organic search results on Google (or your search ads if you’re using AdWords), he can +1 it and recommend your page to the world.

The next time Brian’s friend Mary is signed in and searching on Google and your page appears, she might see a personalized annotation letting her know that Brian +1’d it. So Brian’s +1 helps Mary decide that your site is worth checking out.

We expect that these personalized annotations will help sites stand out by showing users which search results are personally relevant to them. As a result, +1’s could increase both the quality and quantity of traffic to the sites people care about.

But the +1 button isn’t just for search results. We’re working on a +1 button that you can put on your pages too, making it easy for people to recommend your content on Google search without leaving your site. If you want to be notified when the +1 button is available for your website, you can sign up for email updates at our +1 webmaster site.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll add +1 buttons to search results and ads on We’ll also start to look at +1’s as one of the many signals we use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, including social signals from other services. For +1’s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality over time. At first the +1 button will appear for English searches only on, but we’re working to add more languages in the future.

We’re excited about using +1’s to make search more personal, relevant and compelling. We hope you’re excited too! If you have questions about the +1 button and how it affects search on, you can check the Google Webmaster Central Help Center.