Google's Attempt At Grabbing Social Media Profiles With Sitelinks

There's a marked contrast that while Mark Zuckerberg gets to basically advertise a new Facebook user profile for free to millions of viewers on 60 Minutes, coverage of Google's attempt to capture social graph profiles from netizens is limited to a handful of search engine blogs.

On December 5, Barry Schwartz's Search Engine Land report noted that Google was now showing social search-related results in the new "sitelinks" section of their search results. These social links include folks you have befriended or followed on various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. It includes your friend's names and photos with links to their Web site content. In Barry's case, when he searched for "Twitter," he was presented with the following listing and noted social media guru followers, such as Robert Scoble appeard in the Sitelinks' results.

Google Social SitelinksGoogle Social Sitelinks

Google developed sitelinks based on the fact that "when you search for a social site like Twitter or MySpace, you’re looking for information from your friends and social network, like their tweets and profile pages." To addresss this need, they added the new social sitelinks to search results, giving surfers more direct access to content from their friends. Social sitelinks are based on the same technology as Google Social Search. They use folks' social circle to identify relevant Web sites and user pages.

However there is a fly in the ointment, and might be one of the reasons Google hasn't been more vocal about this new functionality. To see social sitelinks in action, try a search for [twitter] or [youtube] yourself.  Did any social sitelinks appear? The problem is most people are not able to see similar social sitelinks to Barry Schwartz. Why? Because they haven't established a Google profile.

Google Profile exampleGoogle Profile example

However, when creating a Google profile and adding links in your profile to other online social sites you belong to - you are now providing Google the kind of data they lack. Also, when signing up for you own profile, you will find that sitelinks will not become evident in your searches right away. There appears to be a lag time between completing your Google profile and for that data to trigger your searches. I signed up last night, and I still haven't been able to see any sitelinks when I search for "Twitter" or "Facebook."

Since Google is presently unable to obtain this profile info from Facebook directly, this circuitous route is their less-than-effective attempt in replicating a profile system without a full-blow social network in place.

However, that may all change if Google is able to launch its own social platform. Its vain attempts at being able to accomplish this in the past has been well documented. In a new development noted in my previous post, "Social Media Plus Sergey Brin Equals Google Plus One," if Google's co-founder Sergey Brin is finally taking the driver's seat of Google's social media bus, it might have a chance to play catch-up. But while books, a movie, a graphic novel and guest spots with Lesley Stahl on 60 minutes keep providing Facebook with free global publicity, at present, Google unfortunately can't even be seen in Facebook's rear-view mirror.

For those that missed it, - with over 20 minutes of coverage on 60 Minutes (December 5) - here are the two parts of Lesley Stahl's hard-ball interview with Zuckerberg.

Dec 6, 2010
by Anonymous


I find this all interesting, as Facebook strives to become more search oriented and Google strives for social. Having a feature that will only work with a Google profile isn't a great way to get started for Google. Let's hope it's better than Wave and Buzz.

-Andy from Benchmark Email