Google Offers Personal Profiles with Search

Google now gives users the option to post a link to a Google profile at the bottom of name-query search pages, meaning that anyone searching for a user online can view information that the user wants the world to see. This potentially allows Google to use its search engine to create more of a social networking presence online, similar to Facebook and Twitter.

Google will begin displaying Google profile results at the bottom of U.S. name-query search pages, with the results linking to the user's full Google profile. Someone searching for a name using the popular search engine can now read through profile information posted by people with that name.

Typing "Me" into the main Google search page will result in an option, at the top of the search results page, to "Create your own profile on Google." Users can then choose to display personal information such as the schools they've attended and links to their blogs.

"These results offer abbreviated information from user-created Google profiles and a link to the full profiles," Brian Stoler, a Google software engineer, wrote in an April 21 post on the Google corporate blog. "We've also added links so it's easy to search for the same name on MySpace, Facebook, Classmates and LinkedIn."
Is this a big deal?

"I see this as a Very Big Deal," John Battelle, author of "The Search," which traces the evolution of Google, wrote in an April 21 blog post. "Why? Well, Google has always been predicated on being a neutral black box. You, as a solitary entity, could not influence the results that Google provided (though of course a very large industry has emerged that attempts to do just that). But this launch changes the game, in a few very, very interesting ways."

The first change, Battelle continued, is that Google is now making use of its search presence to convince more people to sign up for Google profiles, which in turn leads to a potentially deeper bond between search engine provider and search engine user, akin in certain ways to the relationship that users have with Facebook and Twitter.

"Second," Battelle said, "this move creates, for the first time ever, a new signal that is directly controlled by an individual but changes what [everyone else] will see in results. ... Third, this is Google putting a human, community-driven face on itself. It's Google saying, 'Hey, search user! We want to listen and respond to you!'"

The rollout of this new Google feature comes a day after Google introduced two new Google Labs features, Similar Images and the Google News Timeline.

Similar Images attaches a "Similar Images" link beneath images searched via this Google Labs site, which provides images related to the original search query. For example, typing "Jaguar" into the initial search page will yield images of both big cats and fast cars; clicking "Similar Images" beneath the photographs of the vehicles will allow the user to drill down, revealing page after page of related car images.

Google News Timeline organizes information from Google News, including new and archived news, blog posts, and movies, into a "zoomable" graphical timeline, ordering everything chronologically.