Essentially, the feature acts as an alternative search option that will include more information from social media sites as part of the search results. The feature applies one's own social media connections (not necessarily the entire social media universe). It is perhaps best to read about it directly from the Googlers themselves. Here's a snippet from their blog post yesterday morning discussing the new feature...
Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more. But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to... all from one search box.Another way our legal content writers are understanding the change is that Google is seeking to take personal relationships into account when including search results. Most Google changes in the past have been about better understanding exactly what the searcher is hoping to find when including certain terms. This change essentially works on the premise that many searchers actually want to find information included not only on a webpage but posted on a social networking site (i.e. Google +).
So what does it means for law firm blog writers? Perhaps most importantly, it is becoming more and more necessary to be on Google +. If you are not familiar with it, Google+ is Google's attempt at Facebook.
The new search option means that certain Google+ pages will pop up in search when they otherwise wouldn't. For example, when those looking for assistance keeping new content on their legal blog are searching for "Law Blog Writers" not only will they come across our main firm website, they will also likely see the Google+ page for Law Blog Writers, LLC. The same is obviously true for those looking for divorce lawyers in Waterbury, car accident attorneys in Cleveland, and any number of other combinations.
From the legal blogging/online legal marketing perspective there are two points to reiterate:
1) If you don't have a Google+ account yet, get one.
2) Leverage your legal content on all your social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and, now more than ever, Google+ For one thing you should obviously link back to your new blog posts on those social media sites. In addition, use those blog posts more aggressively to engage with friends and followers. Do you have a post up about a nursing home abuse fines levied by your state? Mention the blog post on your Google+ page and ask what your followers think. In many ways debate is more interesting as comments on social media sites than on blogs themselves. This trend toward increased social media integration in search results might make that more relevant now than ever.