Google “My Social Circle” Invading The SERPs

February 19th, 2010 by Will Scott

Google Buzz with its “Connected Sites”option is deeper, and perhaps more insidious, than we thought. It appears, that in addition to insinuating itself into Gmail, Gchat and Google’s mobile services, through Google My Social Circle Google Buzz is picking up information from sites listed in your Google Profile and including “Social Content” in the actual search results, blended as they might News or Video content.

My Mumbai Social Circle

My Mumbai Social Circle

I was reading a blog post from Small Business SEM’s Matt McGee this morning in which he referenced a search result for “small business reputation management“. So I clicked the link and got the following results set:

Results for Small Business Reputation managerment

Results for Small Business Reputation managerment

In case it’s not obvious, you can see in the image above two referenced blog posts from sites I frequent run by industry friends Matt McGee and Outspoken Media (Lisa Barone).

My first thought was “Wow, that’s kind of cool. I wonder why Mat Siltala‘s not there” ;).

And then I drilled down to see what was driving this particular social graph. It’s interesting to see where Google draws data regardless and in this case, more so because assumptions are being made about my likes and dislikes in this Google, My Social Circle by inference from other sites I frequent.

My Social Circle - Reminiscent of LinkedIns Degrees of separation

My Social Circle - Reminiscent of LinkedIn's Degrees of separation

As you can see My Social Circle includes:

  • Direct connections from Google Chat buddies,
  • Direct connections from sites such as Twitter and FriendFeed (that’s a lot of data)
  • Secondary Connections linked by inference to my direct connections

So basically, Google has digested all of the data from those accounts I have listed on my personal Google Profile page and used them to assemble this My Social Circle idea. And, with my social circle defined, my search results are further personalized.

This is a good thing right? Google’s trying to help out and give me what I’m looking for, right?

Maybe.

At this point the implementation is pretty mild. It’s a nice leverage of the data available thanks to the Google Personal Profile page – personal profile pages which are all the more prominent thanks to buzz. And, my position that the implementation is mild is based on my usage.

I’m a business user and I keep it clean. I may be occasionally smart-alecky but other than that I don’t have anthing online I don’t want my mother to see.

If this isn’t you if you might have something to hide, and particularly if you browse on a public or work computer, you may want to reconsider whether Buzz is for you. While the idea of my industry friends who blog showing up in search results is OK for me, it might not be OK for you. And, even if you’re squeaky clean, Google sometimes gets it wrong.

Have you seen any examples of this? What searches? I’d love to see screen shots.