Tiffany Houkom

Google Introduces New, Radical Change

Yesterday Google announced “Search, Plus Your World,” a significant change to its search results that will put more emphasis on content within its social network, Google+. The new feature will allow Google robots to crawl data within Google+, and include this information along with public internet data when displaying search results.

The new Google “Personal Results” link delivers information relevant to searchers based on their search behavior, as well as their social connections. This means that two searchers will see different results for the same query. Regular, nonsocial search results will now be presented to users as “Other results.”

In a recent article by Search Engine Land, Googler Amit Singhal states, “The social search algorithm, and the personalized search algorithm are actually one algorithm now, and we are merging it in a way that is very pleasant and useful.” Only users logged in to Google will receive personal results, though each user has the capability to remove social content from their search results by disabling the option.

Miguel Helft, senior writer at Fortune magazine writes, “The change will expose Google+ profiles, as well as posts and photographs uploaded to the network, to hundreds of millions of search users whether or not they have Google+ accounts. In many cases, the changes will push content from other sites, including Facebook, further down on the search results pages.”

Content on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr will not be included in personalized results. Singhal states that this is due to the fact that their “terms of services don’t allow us to crawl them deeply and store things.” Twitter lashed out at Google this morning over these new changes, claiming that the algorithm update will make information more difficult to find, while increasing the number of irrelevant results returned for any given search. Further, social results at the top of the page will push information from reputable, search engine optimized sources out of the top rankings. This would be detrimental to marketers, searchers and businesses alike. It’s surprising that Google would release such as radical change, favoring its own services in rankings, especially at a time when it is facing antitrust scrutiny.

Critics are voicing their privacy concerns over this development, but it is important to note that personalized results are not making it possible for users to search for information they couldn’t see before; it makes social information previously available easier to access through the main Google search pages. Rather, “private content shared on Google+ could be found with a Google+ search. Google’s really just making Google+ Search one of its Universal Search sources, in some ways,” describes Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land.

Search, Plus Your World will be available to all logged in Google users over the next couple days. Learn more at Google’s Official Blog.

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