Back in August I argued that Google should integrate social search immediately in order to retain some kind of relevance in the social space as we still had no indication as to what direction they were going to take. The existing of Google.me as a service was staunchly denied by the company and the concept of social layers became the reality: adding a social layer to their existing products. As I said at the time "by extending existing products Google is able to drip feed its users with social functionality in the applications they already use".
By combining a normal search result with the social aspects from Reader and Buzz I suggested that integrated social search could look something like this:
Googles actual integrated search looks like this:
Not too dissimilar I think you'll agree.
My ideas for integrating results from your social circle and including them based on relevance and I even raised the issue of privacy with regards to sharing options. Google have mentioned that normal ranking may apply but the social search element may change a page’s ranking — making it appear higher than “normal.” They are also giving the options to privately connect your social profiles to your account but, as I wrote previously, I think that this could go further and would need to should social search be extended beyond the reach of your own circle - which it should.
It is reassuring to know that I was on the right track with regards to how this should go and I look forward to seeing where they take it in future. Using social search combined with Googles massive search index you have the ability to create an extremely powerful recommendation engine and a useful means of discovering related content.
While I would have liked to have seen Google push the boat out a lot sooner it is pleasing to see integrated social search finally with us. Where will it go next? We will have to wait and see but, hopefully, the wait won't be as long.