The new Search Plus Your World feature will cause Google a lot of pain
This week Google started rolling outGoogle Search Plus Your World, which — besides being the worst case of bad branding in a long time — will cause Google a lot of problems. Searchers will go elsewhere and governments will complain. Here is why.
The idea behind Google Search Plus Your World (let’s call it +World, shall we?) is good.
Personalized and social search
Google has presented personalized search results for a long time, using data from your Google GMail account (if you have one) and your web history. Google has been using these data to build you a kind of personality or interest profile, making it easier for them to deliver search results that are of interest to you personally.
If you are a computer geek, searches for “apple” are therefore more likely to bring up results on the computer company, rather than the fruit or the music company of the Beatles.
Google has also tried to enrich search results with real time data frome the social web. For at time it did, for instance, include twitter messages (tweets), which devlivered information about what is happening right now. This was definitely a good idea.
+World is an attempt to combine the two and add personalized social data to the search engine results. That should be a recipe for success. Instead we believe Google is facing a PR disaster. You see, the implementation of +World is bad, very bad.
Twitter and Facebook not on board
It is not all Google’s fault. The fact that Twitter and Google could not reach an agreement on the delivery of tweets to search results, makes it hard for Google to add Twitter data. Twitter has actually added a rel=”nofollow” tag to links in tweets, efficiently forbidding Google to follow and use those links in its algorithm.
Much of Facebook is also off limit for Google. In other words: There are strict limits to what kind of data Google can fetch from the two most popular social services in the world.
There is nothing to stop them from linking to personal profiles on Facebook and Twitter, though.
Instead Google has decided to make use of its own social network, Google+. If you have a Google+ account, you will now find a lot of links to Google+ posts and pages in your search results. (If you don’t, your soon will +World is being rolled out, but is not yet fully launched.)
When I search for “search engine marketing”, for instance, one of the top search results is a link I posted to a Pandia Wrap-up in December, which is in no way useful. Then there are a lot of links to other Google+ posts that may or may not be relevant to my search.
Phil Bailey and Danny Sullivan correctly point out that this favorisation of Google+ even appears if you turn of personalized search/+World. Instead of much more relevant links to content rich twitter and Facebook pages, you get links to less useful Google+ pages.
By adding several Google+ links to the search engine result pages, Google is in effect deluting the quality of search results, making the search engine less attractive for searchers. As Gizmodo put it: Google Just Made Bing the Best Search Engine
I did a search for Danny Sullivan, the search engine expert, with personalized search turned on and got seven search results from Google+, some of them point to Google+ pages, others directly to other web sites.
There is no way these are more relevant than the regular Google search results, which places Danny’s Google+ home page at spot number nine.
How this will work for those who have just put up a Google+ account, without making any effort to find relevant and knowlegeable friends, I do not know, but I suspect it will mean no good search engine quality wise.
Unseasoned searchers may not understand why the quality of search results went down, but they will notice, and that is something Google cannot afford, now that Microsoft is investing so much in the Bing search engine. Yes, Bing also makes use of social data, mainly because of their agreement with Facebook, but they do so in a much less intrusive way.
Both the European Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission is looking into Google at the moment, worried about their quasi-monopoly.
+World will not be of any help in this respect. Google seems to be blatantly promoting its own social network, ignoring the the others. It looks as if Google is willing to to anything to force people to sign up to Google+.
Because that is what you have to do if you want to get any benefits from Google’s new search results.
Google is also forcing companies and organisations to become active on Google+, producing content for Google, and in that way promoting Google+ to their visitors and customers.
Search engine marketing experts are already spending a lot of time trying to handle this new beast, teaching clients how to write for Google+, and producing content for them. Right now your company Google+ page is actually likely to rank before your standard web site, so you cannot afford to ignore it.
In time this may lead to links to useful information on Google+, ensuring our lock-in to Google products. That is not good for competition.
A NEWS WRAP-UP OF GOOGLE SEARCH PLUS YOUR WORLD
Why Google Search Plus is a disaster for search
P Bradley: I’m looking at what Google regards as my personal data. That is to say, information that I’ve produced, or that has been produced by people that I follow. However, this is only pulling data from what GOOGLE decides is ‘my world’ and that world is very limited.
The Next Step in the Google+ Masterplan: “Search Plus Your World”
State of Search: From now on you will not just find content from the web, your search results will be mixed with personal results which have been shared with you personally.
Google snarks back at Twitter over search comments
techradar: Google has sniped at Twitter after the latter’s comments criticising the new Google Search plus Your World features.
Real-Life Examples Of How Google’s “Search Plus” Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy
Danny Sullivan: The new Google “Search Plus Your World” feature — which I’m now simply calling “Search Plus” — has just gone live for me. Huge debate erupted yesterday over whether it somehow favors Google+. I can see now that it clearly does, even more than I thought.
How (and Why) to Turn Off Google’s Personalized Search Results
Huff Post: My biggest concern about the change is that it kind of ruins what Google spent so many years building. Google’s well honed algorithms have historically been based on finding the most relevant results based on their “importance.” …As Mat Honan pointed out on Gizmodo, the problem with social search and personal results is that it biases the results based on the perspective of your friends.