Google today unveiled Search Plus Your World – an initiative, one reporter noted, that marks "one of the biggest changes [Google] has ever made to its search results." Broadly speaking, Search Plus Your World makes searches more "social," which is to say that search results, from here on out, will take into account not just data and factoids, but also relationships between users.
"Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more," Google's Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post today. "But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to... all from one search box."
Search Plus Your World piggybacks on Google+, Google's relatively young – and relatively popular – social network. (It's worth noting here that users can turn off personal results with a single flip of the toggle switch.)
"Say you’re looking for a vacation destination," Singhal writes. "You can of course search the web, but what if you want to learn from the experiences your friends have had on their vacations? Just as in real life, your friends’ experiences are often so much more meaningful to you than impersonal content on the web." To that end, Google will now recommend posts from friends' Google+ pages or photos from Google+ and Picasa.
As Claire Cain Miller of the Times writes, the timing of the announcement is propitious for Google – and its competitors.
"Google has risked being shunted aside for failing to get on board with the social Web," Cain Miller writes. "Its new offering comes eight years after Facebook started and in the weeks before it is expected to file for an initial public offering, the most eagerly anticipated tech offering since Google went public and what is likely to be the crowning moment for the new social Web."