Most industry insiders say it’s coming – the advent of social search. But with networks like Facebook introducing on-site and off-site technologies that help users find information fast, how will Google respond? If a newly granted patent is any indication, Google has new social search features up its sleeves, which may see the light of day sooner rather than later.
The United States Patent and Trademark office recently approved Google’s latest patent for technology that would filter social media content search results. The document outlines an interface for sifting through results based on a person’s social presence. More, the option would show search results based around web content previously shared, Liked or posted by people within a user’s social network. In some cases, the patent sounds a lot like the revision made to the +1 feature on Google+.
However, Google may already realize a potential problem with bridging search and social – its own network continues to struggle with major brands. Certain reports suggest that Google+ has the second-most monthly active users, but a study from the Charlton College of Business Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shows that 19 percent of companies with Google+ accounts haven’t activated their profiles. The data shows that Google+ is the only network where a high volume of brands have opened accounts, but never started using them.
Bing – Google’s closest rival in search – has been working tirelessly for the past year to introduce new social search features to improve user experience. The Microsoft-owned search engine features a unique social sidebar that showcases Facebook content in search results. Unfortunately, customer satisfaction on both Bing and Google took a hit over the last 12 months, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Perhaps the company that can successfully bring social media to search and provide users with increasingly relevant online content will see engagement rates skyrocket in the next year.