Hot on the heels of reports that Google is building a social network to challenge Facebook, the company said June 29 it will begin adding links that appear in Google Buzz to its Google Social Search service.
Google Social Search lets users find Web content published by friends as a way to make users' search experience more personal.
The service links users' Google accounts and their Google profiles, surfacing users' content in what Google calls a "social circle."
This social circle includes users of social services Google users have listed in their Google profile, including Gmail contacts and chat buddies, as well as people whom users are publicly connected to on social sites such as Twitter, FriendFeed and Google Picasa.
Soon, content that users post on Google Buzz, Google's own social conversation service, will become part of the Social Search results. Those who have connected Twitter to Buzz will see their tweets in Buzz and in their Google profiles.
Google Social Search in the next few days will follow those public links in the Buzz tab to flesh out users' results, said Google software engineer Mike Lopyrev.
"That means if there's a link to your Twitter account in your public Buzz stream, we'll follow that link to add the people you follow on Twitter to your social circle," Lopyrev said.
"If you don't use Buzz, you can still add links to YouTube, Picasa and other sites directly to your Google profile, and we'll continue to follow those links as well."
Danny Sullivan illustrates how this all works here on Search Engine Land.
Google is essentially depending on the virality of Twitter, YouTube and other Web services to help expand Social Search. Lopyrev said Google will keep adding links that appear in Google profiles.
These new ties between Google Social Search and Google Buzz lead one to believe Google is building Google Me, a sort of super social network to challenge Facebook. Experts believe Google needs something to avoid getting shut out of the social advertising Facebook is currently enjoying.
Google Me could be enhancements to Google Profiles that let users share more. Or, it could be some integration of Google Buzz and orkut, the social network that does well in Brazil and India but was eclipsed by Friendster, MySpace and then Facebook in the United States.
What seems clear, from the rumored Google Me effort and the hiring of social software experts such as Joseph Smarr and Chris Messina, is that Google has put an increased focus on delivering an open social platform to challenge Facebook's walled garden.