Google Profile‘s have been around since April 2009. Google explains that:
A Google profile is simply how you present yourself on Google products to other Google users. It allows you to control how you appear on Google and tell others a bit more about who you are. With a Google profile, you can easily share your web content on one central location. You can include, for example, links to your blog, online photos, and other profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. You have control over what others see. Your profile won’t display any private information unless you’ve explicitly added it.
You can also allow people to find you more easily by enabling your profile to be searched by your name. Simply set your existing profile to show your full name publicly.
If you’ve been writing reviews on Google Maps, creating articles on Google Knol, sharing Google Reader items, or adding books to your Google Book Search library, you may already have a profile.
Google displays these profiles as search results for Names as a way to give everyone visibility for searches on their name. But, this week Google Profiles grew in importance when they released Google Social Search.
With Social Search, Google finds relevant public content from your friends and contacts and highlights it for you at the bottom of your search results.
The way we do it is by building a social circle of your friends and contacts using the connections linked from your public Google profile, such as the people you’re following on Twitter or FriendFeed. The results are specific to you, so you need to be signed in to your Google Account to use Social Search. If you use Gmail, we’ll also include your chat buddies and contacts in your friends, family, and coworkers groups. And if you use Google Reader, we’ll include some websites from your subscriptions as part of your social search results.
What this means is that if you have a Google Profile, with links to your Social Networking profiles (Twitter & FriendFeed, etc.) Google will incorporate results from the social media network of people that you follow – or follow you on those networks. These “Links from People in Your Social Circle” will appear if you opt into the Social Search Beta , and have links to that Social Circle through your Google Account. But, I think it is only a matter of time before these results are rolled out to all searchers using Google – provided searchers share their profile and personal data with Google.
What hasn’t been discussed in the wake of the release of Social Search is what companies need to do to start showing up in Social Search results. Companies need to establish their own Google Profile Pages and need to provide as much data about their websites and social networking profiles as possible.
Danny Sullivan is absolutely correct in stating that Social Search is “Trusted Search”. Danny says, “It’s a way that Google figures out people you trust, then ensures that you see content from them showing up in your search results.” If people trust you enough to follow you on social networks, they will go out of their way to click on Social Media results when they find your content matching their search query.
Steps that companies need to take to play in the Social Search Game on Google:
Think of the Google Profile as a way of reaching your audience and a way of giving Google a road map to your social network. You want to make it as easy as possible for Google to track this network and deliver Social Search results to them. The bigger the network the more likely you will get natural search clicks from searchers who already trust you. Google told Time Magazine:
The more information you add to your profile, the higher your page is likely to be ranked on a Google search for your name and associated keywords, such as the name of your hometown, your job title or where you work or go to school. And the more richly detailed your Google profile is, the more Google knows about you.
The most important point about Google Social Search is that Social Media is now officially a part of search engine optimization. Establishing company Social Media profiles and bringing them altogether in a Google profile is important for search. Growing your company’s social networks, especially Twitter followers, should be a strategy to improve Natural Search traffic through Google Social Search results going forward.