Google is taking another step in integrated personalized content into its market leading Web search offering, announcing three new features—Personal Results, Profiles in Search, and People and Pages—as part of a new search configuration called Search plus Your World. Expanding on search personalization features the company originally introduced back in 2009, the idea behind Search plus Your World is to pull information from users Google+ profiles, circles, posts, photos, and more and present them alongside general Web search results when appropriate, as deemed by Google’s sophisticated matching algorithms. What’s more, Google says users will have full control over what information is and is not available for others to search, as well as control over how their search results are personalized.
“Search is still limited to a universe of Web pages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met,” wrote Google Fellow Amit Singhal. “Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search.”
Personal Results can be viewed as combining the capabilities of Google’s traditional Web search with Google+ search, and rolls in content from Google+ posts (whether shared publicly or privately with you) along with photos from friends fetched via Google+ and Picassa. Users can isolate the search down to just info from their personal contacts with a link at the top of the results page.
Profiles in Search essentially brings a user’s Google+ friends’ profiles available in Google’s predictive search: start typing a name in Google’s search box and friends’ names will appear alongside other predictive queries where appropriate, providing fast access to friends profiles—and, just as with other predictive searches, Google Instant starts populating search results as users type. Google is also throwing other “prominent people” and “high-quality authors” from Google+ into the predictive search results, some via their recently-launched “authorship program.”
Finally, Google’s People and Pages feature aims to surface “prominent people” who talk about particular topics on Google+ when users search for information on general topics: the listings will appear on the right-hand side of the results page, and are aimed to bring search users directly into Google+ to talk about their interests.
Google promises the new services are secure, and that users have full control of how their information is (and is not) shared via search. Last year Google enabled SSL encryption for all searches conducted by signed-in users, and that SSL encryption also protects these personalized search services—because, obviously, users need to be signed in to Google to tap into personalized services. Similarly, Google indicates whether personalized search result items are public, group-only, or private, and people in search results are clearly marked as to whether they are in a circle or merely suggested connections. The entire search results page also features a toggle that enables users to quickly shift between personalized and non-personalized results—perhaps a quick way to get personalized results off your screen if you’re in a public space or someone looks over your shoulder.
Google says the new features will roll out to all signed-in Google users searching in English over the next few days.