Thursday, January 12, 2012

Google introduces “Search, Plus Your World”

Google has integrated social and personalised results into its search results.

On January 10, 2012 Google announced “Search, Plus Your World.” This integrates personalised and social results into Google’s search results; it will automatically affect organic results unless the user opts out.

This is an attempt by Google to promote social search by allowing users to search for private content that has been shared by their connections and content that they have shared with others within search results (when logged in to Google account). Private content will not be made public and will only appear on the specific users search results.

There are three different features that are part of “Search, Plus Your World”:

o    Personal Results: Users will be able to find information shared by them or their connections. Currently this is limited to Google + and Picasa.

o    Profile in Search: Users will be able to find people they know faster through search and autocomplete. This feature will allow users to find the people they know faster, especially if they have common names. This feature will also find people that the user may be interested in following.

o    People & Pages: Users will be able to find people’s profiles and Google + pages related to specific topics or areas of interest. If a relevant query is made, these pages will appear on the right hand of the search result pages. For example, if a user searches for movies, Google will suggest related Google + pages of actors and actresses that are active on Google +.

Google has also announced that with this feature, people now have the choice of viewing personalised results or non-personalised results, which is new as before this update the default was personalised results. “Search, Plus Your World” is being rolled out in the next couple of days worldwide on and only for results in English. However, over time this is likely to rollout to all of Google’s properties. 

Google’s move to incorporate private results into search results, specifically those from Google + and Picasa, will monopolise a larger portion of search result pages. This further promotion of its own products may lead to further anti-trust lawsuits. Currently “Search, Plus Your World” only retrieves private data from Google + and does not include results from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. This is causing an outrage especially in the Twitter community as Google is making Twitter results less visible. 

This also has further implications as if  brands do not have a Google + page, they will not be suggested as part of People & Places. This means that they will lose presence in the search space. From a user's perspective, there are also potential privacy concerns with this change as people who are not familiar with the service may think that their private data has now become public.

Until the adoption and usage of Google Plus is high, the impact of this on organic search results is likely to be minimal in Australian market. However, People & Pages will affect all users, even if they are not signed in, and due to this it is imperative that brands start actively using their Google + accounts to dominate this space.  

Google’s incorporation of social into its search algorithm has the potential to change the landscape for search as it will become even harder to rank organically above the fold with no social media presence. This move from Google gives social, mainly Google +, an even more prominent position in search and due to this Starcom recommends that clients incorporate Google + into their social strategy. This further emphasises the need to create and disseminate fresh new content in order to rank well on Google.

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