One of the principal things nearly anyone does on Google.com is a vanity search: We ask the question: What do people see when they put my name into Google?
Today, Google is announcing, for the first time, that anyone can change what is seen. (The initial launch is US only).
I agree with John Battelle's comments in News: Google Lets You Put Yourself Into Results For..Yourself: this is, as he puts it, “a Very Big Deal.”
Why? Well, Google has always been predicated on being a neutral black box. You, as a solitary entity, could not influence the results that Google provided (though of course a very large industry has emerged that attempts to do just that). But this launch changes the game, in a few very, very interesting ways.
First, and most obvious, this is Google leveraging its might in search to get more people to sign up for Google profiles. I shouldn't have to explain why this is important, given the competition from Facebook and Twitter, but trust me, it's really important that Google 1. know who you are and 2. compel you to have ongoing relationship with the company.
Second, this move creates, for the first time ever, a new signal that is directly controlled by an individual but changes what everyone else will see in results. True, for now, the results are at the bottom of the first page of results, but that doesn't mean it won't move up once Google learns enough to make it truly useful.
There's more at at the Searchblog
I'd add one other reason why this may turn out to be important: it becomes a first major step towards a privately managed amelioration of the “bad people post lies about you and Google links to them” problem that motivated Danielle Citron and others to advocate throwing the right to anonymity overboard. Maybe even better than the one I was talking about at the CCR symposium the other day (see What is To Be Done?”).