This morning, I noticed Google may be testing a new feature: Social recommendations on the search engine results page , from friends of your friends. This is probably another battle in the conversation about " Filter Bubbles ", and Google's effort to make sure that you are still being exposed to new items and comments that you are interested in. The term "Filter Bubbles" has been coined to talk about how personalization in search engines could potentially reduce diversity of search results , if an engine starts to know more about you and presents the articles it thinks you want to see, instead of a diversity of items.

For example, see the query below for the phrase, "Google". I received a notification below the top search result, that Douglas Breault shared the item on Twitter in the past. But I don't follow Douglas! However, we follow a lot of the same people, and some of the people I follow also follow him back.

Our social circles have some pretty good overlap, and so it looks like Google has decided it's a good idea to show me what Doug recommends to his friends. By presenting items from people who Google thinks I would trust if I knew them, but I don't know, they are expanding the "bubble" of my world on the internet to include new people and possibly introduce new items I may have overlooked.

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If this is a new Google feature, the marketing takeaway is clear: Make sure that it is easy for visitors on your website to like your content, tweet your content, or share it with their friends . The social circles that are being used by Google are growing quickly and it's not just a searcher's friends that can influence social recommendations, but their friends. Also, if you serve a special niche audience as well, ask the thought leaders with large social networks in your niche to like or tweet your content as well. Their wide-reaching social network will help inform and recommend your content to potential customers searching in your niche.

Have you seen examples of these new "friend of a friend" social recommendations as well? Show us your examples in the comments!


Originally published Jun 23, 2011 9:58:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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Google Updates