There we go, folks. Barely had 2012 begun, when Google, the search engine that never sleeps, rolled out an unprecedentedly refreshing mode for its search results – Search Plus Your World.
Search plus Your World mixes “regular” (told you “regular” was relative) search results with various Web 2.0 pages associated with YOU, displaying different things you intended to share, say, only with your friends on Google+, right within the search results.
As creepy as it sounds, now, if you feed Google some obscure keyword and this keyword is present somewhere on your/your friends’ social media pages, those pages will most likely get included into your search results. And, the outcome can be quite surprising: for example, I performed a search for “5-star hotel” today and got this highly “relevant” share from a colleague:
And this was a number 3 result! Okaaaay.
Now, Google says the innovation is to help one easily find various stuff that is connected with their activities on the Web. Also, there is an opt-out button, by clicking which you can hide your personal results.
However, I can only imagine how confusing this will be for the average user and how many people will actually be shocked to see their personal stuff pop up in the search results that, in their understanding, should be a public thing.
What’s all this about?
Let’s try to figure out Google’s real motives. Search plus social is not something that users have been screaming for for decades (neither have they ever asked for Google+, to be honest).
However, Google decided to do it. Why? It’s simply a marketing maneuver to trick businesses and individuals into using Google+. And, no matter how much Google talks about users benefiting from the feature, I don’t really see how this quite eerie integration can be hugely beneficial. Well, it’s entertaining at best.
It’s like, if Google was a TV channel, Search plus Your World would be a commercial, that is, something that helps them build brand recognition and awareness.
What is included in personal results
According to Matt Cutts (emphasis mine)
“Search plus Your World builds on the social search that we launched in 2009, and can surface public content from sites across from the web, such as Quora, FriendFeed, LiveJournal, Twitter, and WordPress”.
However, multiple accounts by Internet marketers who have been testing the new search results point to the fact that Google+ listings seem to prevail in those.
In response to this phenomenon, Google modestly states that,
“Facebook and Twitter and other services, basically, their terms of service don’t allow us to crawl them deeply and store things. Google+ is the only [network] that provides such a persistent service. Of course, going forward, if others were willing to change, we’d look at designing things to see how it would work.”
Yeah, how convenient for you, Google!
Will Search plus Your World kill Facebook and Twitter?
Of course the move was BAD news for major social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, especially Twitter. Smelling danger in the air, Twitter immediately responded, accusing Google of maliciously interfering with the world’s “vital source of this real-time information”, which is none other than Twitter. Well, Google fired back saying, well, you guys broke up with us first by refusing to continue powering our Realtime results last summer.
So, now, the question is whether Google’s Search plus Your World has the potential to kick Facebook or Twitter out of the game any time soon. Well, who knows? On the one hand, Google has a plan that’s as simple as ABC – to leverage their status of the world’s search leader to promote their social-related services. On the other hand, the result may yet be unpredictable.
Not much positive feedback
So far, apart from Googlers’ sugary reviews, there is not much positive feedback regarding Search plus Your World to be found on the Web. And, even the supportive reviews that exist are more emotive rather than fact-based critique. The new feature’s advocates simply find it appealing, nice, etc. For example, Sash Catanzanzarite in his “How Google+ Got its Groove Back”, says that the new utility “adds layers of magic” to Google+ and “just works”.
The silver lining
The good news is that SEO’s seem to finally be able to lay their hands on something they’ve been looking for so desperately: the turn-all-personalization-off button, which they can now use to prove to clients that personalization EXISTS.
Well, it doesn’t work all the way, though. By hitting “Hide personal results” you only exclude results from your friends, your private information and the personalization of results based on your Web History.
And, additional tweaking of your Search Settings is required to manage contextual signals such as language and location. This basically means that, unfortunately, the button does not turn ALL personalization off in a hit. But, nevertheless, this is much better than nothing.
My prediction regarding Search plus Your World
The way I see it, it will take Google quite a lot of time, effort and tweaking of the new feature to make it work without raising privacy concerns and antitrust claims. However, in the long run, I believe Google+ will pick up the pace and eventually deliver a powerful blow to Facebook and Twitter, because this time it looks like Google is for real.
The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Marketing Pilgrim.
Aleh Barysevich is Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Link-Assistant.Com, a major SEO software provider and the maker of SEO PowerSuite tools. Link-Assistant.Com is a group of SEO professionals with years of SEO experience. Based on their expertise, company’s four-app SEO toolset was created, setting the industry’s benchmark for technology-powered Web professionals with years of SEO experience. Based on their expertise, company’s four-app SEO toolset was created, setting the industry’s benchmark for technology-powered Web promotion.