Google’s Search to Become More Social

By: Hessie Jones

January 31, 2012

By Hessie Jones

Google is going through a journey.

In its quest to become more social…. correction….in its quest to be perceived as being social, Google has run into stumbling blocks.

Google_plusGoogle’s launch of ‘Search Plus Your World’ indicates how Google Plus content will show up in organic search results. This CNET article indicates “We believe that our improvements to search will benefit consumers by better surfacing social content, and the great thing about the openness of the Internet is that if users don’t like our service they can easily switch to another site.”

There are two implications here:

  1. By “stacking” G+ results into search, Google is, in fact, favouring its own properties regardless of their relevancy. This would drive more visibility to content that resides in Google Plus.
  2.  At the same time, more visibility would be driven to users of G+ and their content. At a user level, this increased level of exposure has its own implications on privacy.

I absolutely love this image from Gizmodo’s article: “Google’s Newest Search Results? An FTC Antitrust Investigation”.

Google’s algorithm has always been dubbed as the “black box”. The company alone controls this algorithm. It has made changes to the algorithm many times citing “increased relevancy” as the core objective.  Remember the recent “Panda Update” that cause many websites to lose significant search traffic? Google claimed, “Panda…. would downgrade so-called “content farms” of copied or useless content.” This change alone had enormous implications to revenues from many websites and brought many to question whether Google’s change was essentially an abuse of power.

In the end the consumer loses out. Consider this: Facebook does not allow Google to have full access to its content. Twitter also stopped allowing Google to index its content. With the two largest networks’ content being delisted on the world’s largest search engine, the implications of relevancy are now even more significant. Google came under fire from Twitter recently when Twitter issued a statement saying,  “We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.’

Google knows that in order for it to realize web dominance it has to win in the social web. The investment in Google Plus as its baby to take them there is being hastened by Google switching its search rank algorithm.

As everyone in Google’s world should have heard by now, Google is changing its privacy policy, and unifying it across its wide range of services.

Hessie_G+ privacy

Google, has seemingly, learned from Facebook's privacy-related problems, and given users full control over what they publish.

Facebook  has had its own issues with FTC and Privacy Disclosure. Google, seemingly, learned from that and ensured that users had full control of elements of their profile and content they were publishing. In fact, within the G+ Profile and Privacy, the disclosure is very clear. But this new change has stronger implications on personal information and data.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land made this statement, “[A]lthough the data from a user’s Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google’s changes make the personal data of users more accessible. Users might, for example, ‘com[e] across an unexpected photo or post from a friend, [and] might reshare it to the world’ or ‘[t]hings that people may have forgotten sharing with others will begin to show up serendipitously through ordinary Google searches.'”

What are your thoughts? Are both consumers and business being handcuffed by these new Google changes? Should increased regulation inhibit Google from making arbitrary changes?


1 comment

  1. Google is a free service and you are free to walk away.

    That being said I think from Google’s perspective this change in policy and action makes a lot of sense. Google makes most of its money from Advertisers ( and that’s who will benefit from this change.

    Google will be able to utilize the information gained from individuals to leverage a better and more accurate value of what that individual is worth to advertisers. Advertisers will be able to better target the people who are more likely to be interested in what they are pitching. Because of this they will be happy to pay the increased price.

    As an advertiser who uses Google’s AdWords service I look forward to having the ability to better target people with highly relevant ads.

    As an individual it’s a tougher call, and will take some time for me to decide if the trade off is worth it. In the best case scenario the search results I receive because of this change could be the most relevant yet.

    However any company having that much info on individuals becomes a target for attack (Think Sony in Q2 last year) and the potential for Google to abuse the power itself. Time will tell if it’s worth it but for now I’m being optimistic.

    Great article Hessie! Thanks for posting.

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