Google+ users to get 'preference' in search results

Google Inc will provide more personalized search results for users by tapping content from its Google+ service, including photos, news and comments that are posted on the social network. 
A new service called Search, Plus Your World will display more content for users who log into Google, providing access to items they may have put on Google+ or from friends' posts, said Amit Singhal, who focuses on improving information retrieval at the Mountain View, California-based company. If someone searches for a dog, for instance, pictures of friends' dogs might show up first in the search results. 

"At Google, we always want to return the most comprehensive and relevant answers to your questions, and many times those answers are in the open public Web, but many times those answers are in your own personal content," Singhal said. "This is the first time we're bringing personal content right into the results page." 

Google, the world's biggest search engine, aims to ward off competition from Microsoft Corp'sBing and Facebook Inc. Last year, Bing began displaying Facebook data, such as restaurants, brands and links friends have recommended, in its search results. Facebook has more than 800 million members, compared with more than 40 million for Google+ as of October. 

Facebook, Twitter
Google's search service doesn't include content from Facebook or microblogging service TwitterInc. The changes under the new Google service could make finding Twitter posts on news events more difficult, San Francisco-based Twitter said. 

"People have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the internet," Twitter said in an e-mailed statement. "We're concerned that as a result of Google's changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone." 

Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, declined to comment on the new search service. 

Google wants to be comprehensive in its search results, according to Gabriel Stricker, a spokesman for the company. 

"Google does not have access to crawl all the information on some sites, so it's not possible for us to surface all that content," Stricker said in an e-mail today. "Based on current policies from many social networks, we currently only have persistent access to information from Google+." 

Bing plays catch-up
While Google remains dominant in internet queries, Microsoft has gained ground. In December, Bing had 15.1 per cent of US internet queries, up from 13.9 per cent in March, according to ComScore Inc. 

Microsoft passed Yahoo to become the No. 2 search engine last month. Yahoo dropped to 14.5 per cent in the period, down from 15.1 per cent the previous month and 15.7 per cent in March. Google's share was 65.9 per cent in December, compared with 65.7 per cent in March. 

As part of Google's search changes, the company is rolling out a feature called Profiles in Search. It has an auto-complete function that brings up links to friends' Google+ accounts while users are still entering queries in the search box. It also will give suggestions on whom to follow on Google+. 

Google's new personal content on search-results pages, which will be rolled out in the coming days, can come from Google+ accounts or its photo-sharing feature Picasa. Google shares rose less than 1 per cent today to $623.14 at the close in New York. The shares rose 8.7 per cent last year.

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