Wouldn’t it be great if when you searched for a hotel on Google, you could see what hotels your friends had recommended in that area? Remember they posted about it online that time? Well now Google is going to use information that your friends and associates have shared, to modify your search results – that hotel is now much more likely to appear in your search results – woop!
Oh wait, they did share the link on Google+ right? What do you mean “what’s Google+?” It’s a bit like Face… let me guess, they posted their link on Facebook? I can see a problem here. Allow me to investigate…
Put your hands up if you’re on Google+ – SEOs put your hands down, you don’t count –I don’t see many hands. Now put your hands up if you’re on Facebook – lots of hands. It’s like an actual hand factory.
Google has introduced this great new feature whereby they are “transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.” The problem is that, currently, they’re only intent on using social data gathered from their own social network, Google+. Let’s take a closer look at what Google have told us they are going to be doing.
Search, plus Your World
On the Google Blog, they have introduced 3 new features that they are bringing to search. Firstly Personal Search– this will enable you to find Google+ posts from your friends, including links and photos that they (or you) have shared.
Secondly, Profiles in Search – which helps when searching for a person. You’ll now get ‘personalised profile prediction(s)’. Start typing in the name of someone and if you have instant on, you won’t even need to finish typing before you’re greeted with a prediction based upon your Google+ connections, meaning that your friends are much more likely to show up, along with any websites that are related to them.
Interestingly this feature will also give more prominence to noteworthy authors belonging to Google’s authorship pilot program – so if you’ve not set up your author account yet, what are you waiting for?!
Last, but not least is People and Pages – meaning when you search for a topic, you might be shown a list of people relevant to that topic, or who discuss it on Google+ on a regular basis.
Search, minus Your Facebook
I could throw some of those generic statistics at you now – Facebook has over 800 million users, etc. but I won’t. I will simply tell you that I have over 300 ‘friends’ on Facebook (most of them don’t like me), whilst on Google+ I have exactly 0 people in my friends circle. None of my friends are on Google+ and I suspect a great deal of them don’t even know what it is.
How can Google claim to be “bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” when their only tool to do so is something that has less of my world in it than next door’s greenhouse (I kicked a football through the glass there a few years back and I suspect it’s still there)?
If and it’s a massive IF, Google were to use Facebook and Twitter data to bring my world into search, then it could be huge. I’m still not convinced that everyone would like it, but the Personal Search feature I think would be hugely beneficial.
So why don’t they use Facebook data?
Marketing Land recently conducted an interview with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt who stated that he would be happy to “have a conversation with them [Facebook and Twitter]” about their inclusion within personalised search results. Without saying too much, Schmidt intimated that Google might make use of both Facebook and Twitter data, were this content made readily available to them by the companies in question.
This came after Twitter had stated they thought Search, plus Your World was “bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.” Google later issued an official response in which they declared their surprise, claiming that Twitter had ended a prior arrangement between the two companies that saw tweets featured within the search results.
Clearly there is a certain amount of politics involved, but if all parties were able to agree something, I can only think that this would be to the benefit of all concerned, with one notable exception – Google+. One would think that if all of this personal content was treated algorithmically, the site with the smallest user base (G+) would have the smallest representation within the search results. So is it really in Google’s best interests to have Facebook and Twitter represented in this way? I guess this depends on whether you believe that Google’s ultimate aim is to provide the best search experience, or to progress their own business.
When will you see Search plus Your World?
Google are rolling the feature out to google.com (when used in English) over the next few days. There is no indication yet as to when it will hit the international sites. PLEASE NOTE: you can easily turn the feature off!
You can read about what many marketing experts think about Google Search plus Your World here. Why not also post a nice comment below to let us know what you think?