If you don't like Google's approach to social search with Search Plus Your World, you may or may not like Wajam and its newly redesigned Google search experience.
Wajam has been available as a browser add on for quite some time. It's been around far longer than Search Plus Your World, adding a personalized, social search experience across your favorite search engines, including Google. If you add it to your browser, you will find socially relevant search results for many of your web searches. However, it does not eliminate the Search Plus Your World experience Google offers, but only adds to it (with private results from your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ networks). And unlike Search Plus Your World, the results are all together in one place, and can be minimized when you don't want them.
"We insert the Wajam dashboard above Google's 'Search Plus Your World' results on the right," explains Wong. "Our dashboard can be minimized or expanded, so it's really an enhancement to what Google already shows. You get the best of both worlds."
On what you can get from Wajam that you can't get through Google's own social search experience, Wong says, "Wajam adds private results from Facebook and Twitter, in addition to Google+. You can filter based on social platforms, as well as on type of result (link, photo, video). You can also select which friends you want to see results from by clicking on their profile picture."
"Filtering/sorting capabilities are greater than Google's at this point in time," he adds.
In a recent article, we asked just how great a signal social is to search relevancy. It depends on who you ask, but it's clearly more useful for some types of searches over others.
"Social can be used for all kinds of web searches, but is most relevant when applied to recommendations," says Wong. "For example, I enjoy watching the best swing dance videos on Youtube, and since I have a lot of dancer friends who share videos on Facebook, I use Wajam to discover and keep track of new and interesting swing videos that are uploaded."
"Social results are useful when you want to find out what your friends think about a certain product, and it also helps you find out which people in your network use a product," he adds. "By searching for an iPad 2, I can see which friends in my network own an iPad because they talk about it."
"The quality of your network makes a big difference in the type of social results you get," he continues. "If you do not have friends who have knowledge and share links on a topic, you won't get good results. Which is why the new design can be 'minimized' and you can quickly glance to see if there are a lot of results, before opening up the Wajam dashboard."
In the end, the strength of social search is in finding recommendations and opinions from your network, in order to get feedback from people you trust, Wong says. "And as we move forward, we're going to continue exploring how we can better bubble up the most relevant results by analyzing the profile of your friends and what their interests are in order to rank the results."
Wong tells us that Wajam is also bringing the new design to Bing and Yahoo this week, and more sites soon.