Google to integrate social info with search

As documentation on social networking and virtual platforms becomes increasingly popular, global search giant Google is looking to leverage the trend by integrating information available on social networking platforms with search results.

The idea works thus: If a user is logged into the search account with an id used on a social networking platform like Google Plus, as well as Gmail, search results would be altered to suit reviews and feedback available from contacts on a user's list, based on the user's social profile.

"One seamless magic experience, it basically looking across your social graph, and the product recommendations would be based on that. If a person is signed on, the results would become more social," said Vinay Goel, director, Google India 

The strategy is crucial, given the fact that the global technology giant, with offerings in search, video, maps, and email spaces, has faced a multitude of problems in getting a grip on the booming social networking website market.

Orkut, a Google product, once dominated the Indian market. But its share has eroded as Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, estimated to have 30 million users in India and a valuation of about $100 billion, steadily gained ground.

While Orkut still has its members, other Google social networking offerings like Buzz and Wave have been knocked off the stage, owing to complexity and problems with user adoption. "Social networking platforms which have not worked in the past have had issues of complexity. But each one has been a learning experience," Goel said.

A strategic positioning in the social networking space is important for Google, considering about 95 per cent of its $8-billion global revenue comes from advertising, a big chunk of which is not vested in the social networking space.

Now, Google is looking at leveraging the Google+ platform in establishing a hold on the space. Within six months of its launch, Google+ has 40 million users, and India is its second-biggest market.

"We do not think social networking on Google+ is just about posts and picture sharing. It is important that consumers get the whole social experience across platforms, including mail, and search," Goel said.

According to Google, the integration of the social network with search in products would also be made possible. Also significant is the move that social networking and search would include third-party websites in the integration.

"This would mean searches would be tailored to one's social profile as well. A user can access his graph across the web, and this will be standardised, ensuring an open platform" Goel said

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