Google’s new “Search Plus Your World” rolls out today, marking the most radical change ever in how Google serves up your search results. The new results now not only find content out there on public websites, they also display content that has been shared privately through Google+.
The new format went live today, and will start showing up for everyone over the next few days. You can tell if you are seeing the new format because you will see an image like this:
HOW IT AFFECTS YOU
Google has been using personalized search results since 2005, with updates in 2007 and 2009, but this is a whole new level. For instance, when you type in your friends name, their Google+ profile will appear right in your search results. When you search for a photo of say, “Bermuda”, any photos your friends shared of Bermuda will come up first. If your neighbor shared a photo of his dog named Bermuda, that would appear.
The personalized results will also creep into your search bar via the autocomplete predictions as well.
For instance, for most users, a search for “chikoo” would show links about and photos of an Indian fruit. But for friends of Google Fellow Mr. Amit Singhal, it would also show photos and posts about his dog, Chikoo. A search for a sports team would show, in addition to the usual links, conversations about the team among a user’s friends on Google Plus.
PERSONALIZED SEARCH RESULTS NOW INCLUDE:
- Listings from the web
- Listings from the web, boosted because of your personal behavior
- Listings from the web, boosted because of your social connections
- Public Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos shared with you
- Private or “Limited” Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos shared with you
While it may freak some people out seeing personal information in their Google results, you must remember that these are not public results. They are results personalized just for the person viewing them. If private content has been shared with those people, that is visible. If it has not been shared, it is not visible.
This new system seems to have an appeal to certain people, but in the broader scope it seems to have generated more concern than anything. Right off the bat the anti-trust comments are everywhere because now it seems that Google is giving search preference to its own social network. Obviously Google and Facebook are not friends anyway (since Facebook partnered with Bing), but now Twitter and other social services are concerned that their information will automatically be pushed below Google’s own network results…which is a no-no.
“We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users,” the company (Twitter) said in a statement.
SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED
As with nearly every social media, it is very easy for someone with access to private content to re-share it publicly, whether intentionally or not. So if you share a photo of Grandma sleeping on the couch on Google+ and forget to mark it private, it could potentially show up for anyone searching Google.
DO I HAVE TO SIGN UP?
Unfortunately, Google chose to not go down the Opt-In route, but rather the Opt-Out option. You can go into you search settings are on Google and choose to permanently opt-out.
“I think this is a much better experience, at the end of the day,” Singhal said, explaining why the default change was made.
Overall, I think that the marriage of public and private data is an obvious one, and everyone could see it coming. I think there are some security concerns that will startle a few people, but for the most part people will adapt to it and learn to like it.
I think this will almost force Facebook and even Twitter to come to the bargaining table with Google and try to get their services included in the same fashion.
It is nice that Google allows you to turn this off, which will help some people avoid it, but long term I think this is the future of search.
The way Google+ is integrated into this gives it a distinct advantage and only further strengthens our stance here at Pacer Design Studios that search engine marketers cannot ignore Google+.