A startup called Wajam has created a more useful social search experience for Google than Google could.
Google’s own three-month-old social search product is called “Search Plus Your World.” But given the absence of Twitter and Facebook updates in the product’s results, it would be more appropriate to call it “Search Plus Your Google+.”
Wajam, which first launched its free browser extension last year, includes other social networks in search results.
The startup introduced a new interface on Monday that sets its search results to the right of Google search results. When users make a Google search query, they can filter social results by specific friends who posted status updates, photos or videos about a specific term. They can select, for instance, only photos that their friend Bob posted on Facebook or only videos Danielle posted to Twitter.
Wajam’s plugin also brings social search to Yahoo, Bing and about 30 other websites — although not all of them are search engines. On TripAdvisor, Amazon, Yelp and eBay, Wajam adds a social search bar to the top of the page for relevant recommendations.
Wajam benefits from not asking social networks for permission to crawl their data. Instead, it asks individual users for permission to access their social feeds, and those feeds are only used in their owners’ results.
Facebook does not allow Google to use its data in search results. Twitter once powered Google’s real-time search, but that relationship expired in July and was not renewed. Microsoft’s Bing has relationships with both Facebook and Twitter that allow it to incorporate some of their social data in its search results, but its solution is a far cry from personalized social results.
Wajam has company in startups such as Topsy and Bottlenose in the social search space, but it cooks itself into products people already use.
It will be interesting to see if Twitter and Facebook appreciate this round-about journey their social data has taken to search engines. If they don’t, Wajam has a problem.
When the startup exceeds the number of calls to either company’s API, it will require a commercial agreement to continue using their data.
“Some people will look at this and wonder if they should like it or be pissed off,” Wajam CEO Martin-Luc Archambault says. “Hopefully since we’re improving the experience, we’ll make friends.”Startup Improves Google Social Search