Google Social Search is a good idea. You take regular Google search results and intertwine them with related elements that your contacts have shared on various social networks. But there’s one big barrier to entry. In order for your contacts to automatically share elements, they have to link up their various social profiles to their Google Profile page. A lot of people are simply not going to do that. So Google is changing things up a bit and making it easier to get at social data.
Starting today and rolling out over the cource of this week, Google will begin looking at items you share on Buzz and crawling elements from those social networks to use in Social Search as well. For example, if you link up your Twitter feed to your Buzz page, even if you haven’t linked it to your Google Profile, you’ll now start seeing results from your Twitter social graph in the results.
Obviously, Google is just going to be crawling public information. And if you want them to stop crawling something, you can simply unlink it from your Buzz account (just as you can unlink it from your Google Profile). Though this unlinking may take a little bit of time due to the crawlers, I’m told.
“It’s a win for users because it creates more value in Social Search,” Google’s Matt Cutts tells us. I asked Cutts where most of the Social Search data comes in from, and while he didn’t have any hard data, he said that Twitter was obviously one of the biggies (though there is still the Twitter/Buzz disconnect). FriendFeed also remains a valuable source of data, he says.
But now that anything you share in Buzz can be pulled into these Social Search results, hopefully there will be even more diverse data — and more of it overall. While it’s not happening just yet, Cutts envisioned a time when searching in a particular area (known from geolocation in your browser) would pull in results from your Foursquare social graph, for example.