Google's putting a little more attention into social cues when it comes to returning search results.
Over the course of the day Google will start rolling out new social search features that more prominently display content that connections on social networks like Twitter have shared. Google's been doing that for a while, but in the slums of the search results page: all the way at the bottom.
Now those results will appear interspersed with regular search results when you're signed into Google and someone on a social network that you have connected to your Google profile shares a link, with a note under the result telling you who shared the link and where. Twitter seems to be the big winner here, but any account linked to one's Google profile can be featured in results.
Those results won't be displayed to all searchers: you'll see individual results when signed into Google based off of friends and connections within the Google world (Gmail, Chat, Google Buzz) who publicly share sites through those services or externally linked services like Twitter or LinkedIn. Google's also making it possible for users to privately link accounts to their Google Profiles.
It's all part of Google's ongoing and mostly fruitless attempts to make social-media connections a greater part of its search results. One of Google's biggest priorities at the moment is finding a way to stay relevant as an information source as more and more people share information in social networks, and as more and more sites try to game Google's results.
This is a long-term problem, but it's a problem nonetheless that is getting a lot of attention internally. One huge issue is the closed nature of Facebook, the king of the social-media world: Google's all-seeing Web crawlers can't penetrate Facebook's services and that has caused tension between the two companies.
Google is expected to roll out more social services over the coming year, having discussed plans to add social layers to existing products as opposed to trying to build a network of its own. Past attempts at that--such as Orkut and Google Buzz--haven't made an impact.
Updated 11:05 a.m. PST to clarify exactly who sees the social results.