This afternoon Google posted about a new feature which enables users to search for “me” to find their own Google profiles. Google recently upgraded their profile features but the company is now investing heavily in making profiles a more integrated part of search. Want to find somebody on the web? If they’ve set up their Google profile properly, they will show up in a box that displays profile results (as pictured below).
It’s a subtle change but one that could make a massive difference. Right now Facebook has a dominant position when it comes to people search. That position is so dominant that they actually rival Google when it comes to searching for people. Facebook provides additional value over Google by finding people based on how close you are to them in the social graph among a number of other factors.
Facebook’s search outside of looking for people is historically horrendous though. If you search for something non-people related and get it misspelled you can occasionally cause Facebook’s search engine to sputter to the point where it takes tens of seconds to respond. At that point you probably turned to Google to find the Facebook public profile you were looking for since most of them are already indexed by the search engine.
Google is known for their disdain of Facebook after at least one failed acquisition attempt during the company’s continued hype last year. Twitter has appeared at the perfect time to become Google’s knight in shining armor (there are even rumors that Twitter and Google are in serious talks). Google thinks so highly of Twitter that they even recommend you use the service to promote your Google profile (as pictured below by Orli Yakuel). Eric Schmidt even mentioned the company during their earnings call last week.
The goal is turn Google into a more effective profile aggregator. By doing so, the company could theoretically continue their pursuit of “out opening” Facebook despite the social network’s continued ability to attract almost a million users a day. While it’s still too early to determine how this will impact the battle to be the leader of the social web, Google is making it clear that they aren’t holding back, willing to use even their most coveted real-estate to fight the battle: Google search results.