Google Profiles Redesign Searches for Facebook Magic

Google Profiles is getting a sweeping upgrade to look more social. Could this be the harbinger of Google+1? Perhaps, but it's certainly a step to be more Facebook-like.

Google, which has been quietly reworking its software products to become more social, has redesigned Google Profiles to make it easier for users to add information about themselves.

Arguably the lynchpin in Google's efforts to add social layers to its Web services, Google Profiles allows users to add personal and professional information about themselves, providing a way for users to present themselves on Google products and across the Web.

Users with Google accounts who choose to set up a Google Profile may add their names, biographies, occupation details, contact information, links to other Web services such as Google Buzz and Twitter, and much more data. Profiles users understand that first name, last name and photos will be public and searchable on and other search engines.

Naturally, Google sees Profiles as a great way for users to share more info about themselves with other Google users. This is key for Google to add a social element and provide an alternative to the Facebook profiles that have proven so successful in luring 600 million-plus users

Google is now rolling out a refresh to make it easier for users to control their Profiles by emphasizing info that's most important to users, and provide more customization.

Google Product Manager Rick Klau, who moved to "socialize" YouTube after finishing the Profiles overhaul, said the "profile pic" is bigger; the About tab is now the default tab; users may show five photo thumbnails that can be enlarged by clicking on them; and users may prevent their Profile information from being searchable online, a big deal for the privacy-minded.

This should make the service easier to manage and more palatable for users searching Google Profiles. Blogger Louis Gray offers his take on the upgrades.

Google Product Manager Greg Marra said the update will be added automatically to all Profile users. Marra encouraged users to update and add to their profile when they see the new "Edit Profile" button.

Is this Profiles upgrade going to play a big role in Google's rumored Google+1 social efforts? Perhaps. Ideally, there will be a front-page portal that hooks into the Profiles information, which users will continue to manage.

Google will likely integrate Gmail and YouTube into this somehow to approximate some of the media-sharing and messaging capabilities in Facebook.

Perhaps, most interestingly, Google is working on providing Google Profiles for businesses "to engage with their customers," Marra explained.

The suggestion is that Google will offer Profiles expressly for businesses to create to surface their information more easily online.