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marissa_mayer_lgThe big elephant in the worlds of social and real-time search certainly made itself heard today.

Google’s rolling out a social search product in Labs within the next few weeks that will show you results connected to your social circle. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see results, blog posts, photos or reviews created by friends. For example, a “New Zealand” search page will turn up travel reviews written or photos taken by friends who have recently visited the country.

“This is great from a precision and relevance standpoint,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience.

To use social search, you have to be signed into Google and it will determine who you’re connected to in part by looking at your Gmail contacts. When you search different items, Google will show you how you’re connected to other people, whether it’s through e-mail, Twitter or FriendFeed.

Google has also incorporated social elements into image search. For example, if you look for photos of a celebrity like Cedric Hodgeman of Twilight, it might also show you pictures of real friends named Cedric. If you do local search, you might end up pulling up reviews that friends have written on Yelp.

The features are new, but Mayer has actually been talking about the potential for social search for a while — for example, in this interview with VentureBeat about social search from January 2008.

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