Google Profiles have been around for a while, but they never seemed to matter. Think of them as a fairly uninspiring social network profile: they're filled with links to your other social web presences, a single picture feed, an 'about me', and a map of where you live. The profiles are linked to in Google Reader, Google My Maps, and a few other places, but they do a poor job all together of tying together your Google presence. Why after a year and a half in development do they not promote your recent Google content?
Look at all of the huge opportunities that aren't leveraged here: They don't publish your Google Maps restaurant reviews (think Yelp), they don't publish your Google Chat status updates (think Facebook or even Twitter), they don't publish your most recent shared Google Reader articles (think Friendfeed), and they don't publish your most recent blog comments (think Disqus). All together, it seems like Google is sitting on hundreds of things they could do well with Google Profiles to make them actually interesting, but they haven't done any of it.
However, despite all of that, Google Profiles has recently become incredibly important, for one reason - they now show up in Google Search. Now once someone has activated their Google Profile, they can appear in a special "Profile results" one-box (pictured above) right on the first page of the Google results. It's really the most direct way you have of influencing your Google search exposure, which in these days is increasingly necessary. Your web profile is becoming your forward face to the world, and it's most easily accessed through search. Virtually any time you go for an interview, the employer is probably looking you up in Google. With Google Profiles (and I would also strongly recommend LinkedIn) you can now direct anyone who is looking for information on you to exactly what information you want them to discover. You can make your Google Profile a very unexciting but powerful digital resume.
What should you put in your Google Profile? What should Google do with the Profiles in general? Will you activate yours? What do you think of how I've decided to use mine?