It must be some kind of unofficial "tinker with your search engine" day or something. Hot on the heels of Yahoo's major search interface overhaul, Search Engine Land has discovered that Google is testing a new feature with Google News—the ability to connect it to your Twitter account. This would then change the stories you see on Google News to a list of articles your Twitter friends are talking about and sharing—though only links to stories carried in Google News will be included (meaning you won't see every random link shared on Twitter, just the newsy ones).
Some folks are seeing a "Friends" prompt at the bottom right of the Google News page, as seen in this screenshot shared by author Barry Schwartz:
Entering your Twitter username and clicking "Save" then changes the content of the Google News experience. TechCrunch has confirmed with Twitter that, in order to accomplish this, Google has been given special access to the Twitter data feed.
Google's even set up a special Help page for this feature, which has this to say:
"Friends is an experimental section in the side column that helps you find news articles that your friends are sharing on Twitter. In the open text box, enter your Twitter username and click 'Save.' Google News will refresh, and you will see a list of updates containing news articles shared by the people you follow.”
So apparently this experimental feature is officially called "Friends.”
While this is just an experiment, and not a widespread test (I'm not personally seeing this particular experiment), it's worth speculating on what a more permanent move like this might mean for video SEO and marketing. Because I think it could have huge implications if it ever goes live for everyone. Think about it… SEO becomes significantly less important in terms of what stories show up when the stories showing up are based solely on what your Twitter friends are saying. And Google News has historically been a fantastic resource for search traffic.
Of course… those Twitter friends sharing links have to discover the original story somehow… so your SEO efforts will still be crucial. Not to mention the part about "only Google News stories will show up," which again means SEO is vital.
But this would be something completely different than traditional Google News, at least from a philosophical standpoint. Instead of keyword-based news discovery… discovery of stories based on your own interests and searches… it would be social-media-based discovery—what's being recommended to you by your peers.