Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) finally managed to fashion a credible social search solution, using its Google+ network to include Picasa photos, posts and other personalized content in users' search results.
Called "Search, plus your world," the new feature is a way to combat the "faceless Web" problem of highly impersonal search results Google, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and the rest of the search vendors have provided for the last decade and a half.
The approach is the latest of many unsuccessful attempts by bit players--and even Google itself--to make search social, and to personalize it in a meaningful way.
"Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of Web pages, images, videos, news and much more," Google Fellow Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post. "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."
Over the next few days, searchers who are members of Google+ and are signed into their Google account will see Google+ photos and posts they've created, as well as those their Google+ followers have shared expressly with them on search results pages.
Also, users will now be able to search people they follow in Google+, or at least would like to follow in Google+, both in the search autocomplete function of the search box and directly in search results.
For example, users can type just a few letters of their friend's name to recall personalized profile choices in the autocomplete function, which leverages Google Instant. Clicking on a name will whisk the searcher away to a results page for their friend.
Searchers may also find profile autocomplete predictions for various prominent people from Google+, including "high-quality authors." Users who aren't already following these people will see an option to add them to their Google+ Circles.
Finally, users may search and find Google people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest.