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Google Reveals Major Transformation to Search, Gets Personal

Google Search just got personal. The tech giant has unveiled a major change to its search results with the addition of "Search Plus Your World." The new transformation makes it possible for users to find their own information on the web, including information about people they know and the content they've shared with them. Search Plus Your World will be rolling out over the next few days to users signed in on in English.

"We're transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships," writes Google's Amit Singhal, in a blog post announcing the major change.

Although the search giant began this change with the introduction of Social Search, it has now, through "Search plus Your World, added three new features to search:

    1. Personal Results: This feature allows users to locate information specific to their community, including Google + photos and posts. For example, if a user wants to find information about a particular vacation destination, they can use the web, as well as search and learn from the experiences of their friends, including links shared by friends, such as restaurants, and activities enjoyed while on the vacation. Personal Results will include both the user's information and those shared with the user, but only the user can see these results.

    2. Profiles in Search: With this new feature, users can now locate people they're close to or might be interested in following both in autocomplete and results. With Profiles in Search, users can find the person they're looking for and connect with them straight from the search results.

    3. People and Pages: The third and final feature helps users find profiles and Google + pages relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. People and Pages allows users to follow these people with a few simple clicks.

In addition to announcing the new features, Google has addressed the obvious concerns about privacy and security, since most of the personal information users will now find in search results will be of private photos and conversations. Google assures readers that Search Plus Your World is secured by SSL encryption, the same level of security and privacy it has for Google +. Search Plus Your World will not feature content from Facebook and Twitter, since these services don't allow search engines to crawl them and store information.

The search giant also says that it wants to be transparent about how these features work. Search results will now be marked as Public, Limited or Only you. What's more, by selecting one of two buttons on the upper right of the results page, users can view search results with or without personal content.

- Melanie Saxe

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Jan 10, 2012