It’s here. I can remember the initial discussions of Google Plus. The general web consensus was that it was going to be Buzz Part 2. But, there were glimmers that it was something more. And the biggest was those was the potential for Google Plus to be integrated with search. And here we are, and here it is.
Is it just me, or did that video feel Apple-ish?
In case you’ve been stuck in an infinite 301 redirect loop, here’s what Google’s Search Plus, Your World Page has to say:
Search has always brought you information from across the web. Now, search gets better by including photos, posts, and more from you and your friends. When signed in with Google+, you’ll find personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. You can even expand your world by discovering people related to your search.
The idea is that by providing personal results, profiles in search, and related people and pages, search is made better.
What’s immediately evident is that in order to experience the power of Search, Plus Your World, you need to be signed in with Google+. In other words, to experience this new form of search and sharing, you need to sign-up for Google’s social media platform. Of course, this is very different from traditional search, which required no commitment from the user.
However, there are also changes to search results even if you’re not logged into Google+, like People and Pages on Google+
related to your search.
What You See
When you’re logged into Google+, you will see two immediate changes on the search results page:
First, the link to personal results:
Second, the show / hide personal results tab:
You’ll also notice, for some searches, that Google is serving up People and Pages on Google+ related to your search. This happens regardless of whether or not you’re signed in. Here are some examples I’ve seen:
A search for Google:
As with most changes to Google, Facebook, and other highly used web properties, the web world is up in arms. And while some simply don’t like the change, others are crying foul.
To me, this is a natural evolution of search.
I think some of the objections to personalized search stem from the common misconception that “traditional” organic search results are somehow pure, or at least should be pure. Meaning, they’re free from commercial manipulation. And of course, anyone who follows the search industry knows that this is simply not reality.
And even dismissing, for a moment, SEO manipulation, the very essence of traditional organic search isn’t pure, per se. Instead, they are the search engine’s perceived ordering of information on the web based primarily on relevance and popularity. And this “search engine perception” is limited by the sophistication of the search engine’s ability to recognize relevance and popularity.
And so, even in the “purest” sense, search results are, at best, the curation of online information by those that have the ability to cast a vote, whether that be by linking, sharing, or otherwise signaling the search engine about a page or site.
Combined that with the fact that organic search is in a continuous battle with those that seek to manipulate results for commercial benefit, or otherwise (think Bush and Santorum), it becomes clear that traditional search has never been pure.
And so, it seems that social search, while not completely immune from gaming, could potentially offer another layer of filtering of results. For example, you’re not likely to follow people with whom you’re not familiar. This makes it much more difficult for “spammers” to infiltrate your personal results. On the other hand, the pool of people that are now curating your results, at least your personal results, is much smaller.
It also raises questions about how personal results might impact traditional results.
In the end, this seems to be the direction that the rest of the web is moving so it comes as no surprise to me that search is undergoing this evolution as well.
What it means is that if you want to continue to be “relevant” and “visible” or “popular” in search, and online in general, you need to help search engines connect your online persona dots. This begins with developing excellent content, as well as, participating, engaging, and connecting with other people online. In other words, using web technologies to bolster your relationships. Both online relationships and offline relationships.