Google has just launched Google Social Search. Google Social Search is a new feature that will pull in relevant information from people within your online "social circle". Google is going to display this information within the organic search results under a new section called "Results from people in your social circle."
For this to work the user needs to be logged into their Google account. Google will then use the Gmail address book, articles from your Google Reader subscriptions, data from Google Profiles, Twitter, FriendFeed, Picasa, Blogger, and public information to create the search results for Social Search. Google Social Search also takes it one step further by including data from friends of friends.
Here is a screen shot for a search on "Orlando Magic" with Social Search enabled.
So what does this mean for companies?
It means that companies that have been sitting on the sidelines of social media need to start to develop their social media strategy knowing that social media is being integrated into search. It could come to the point where social media mentions mean more then links do currently. This could possibly lead to higher visibility in the search results (especially if the user is already a friend/fan of your business).
Go ahead and test it out. Just log into your Google account and go to googlelabs.com. You should see "Google Social Search". Click on "Details and feedback" and then there should be a "Try Google Social Search" button in the top right corner. You can only be part of one Google Labs experiment at a time.