Less than a week ago, Google finally launched a new social search feature for their search engine with the catch line “Search plus Your World”. Two new buttons were introduced to the top right portion of Google search engine result pages for users to choose either personalized or regular search results.
This development makes your default search results incorporate posts and photos from your Google profile and their photo service, Picasa; but you can instantly switch to the regular search results with just one click of the mouse. Google claims to be evolving from being a regular search engine for Web pages to a search engine that recognizes relationship and people.
Now if you search for Chris Wheeler on Google, your default search results (personalized results) will look for the Chris Wheeler that you are connected to via Google plus and not just Chris Wheeler from public Web pages. That’s one of the basic functions brought by the feature amongst other things.
Google Social Search: The Good
The new Google social search leverages your Google profile, Google Plus circles and posts to return results that are most relevant to you. That means once you are signed into your Google account, you are no longer limited to search results from public Web pages, but you can also choose to get results from your Google Plus network and Picasa Web Photo.
Moreover, with just one click of the mouse, you can turn off Google social search (personalized results) and turn it on again. Also with Google instant turned on, you can instantly get personalized results by simply typing the first few letters of a subject. Google plus users, especially the more active ones, stand to benefit the most from this feature.
Secondly, you are not compelled in any way to continue using the service; but you are given the choice to totally opt out of the social search in your Google account settings.
Google Social Search: The Bad
Unfortunately, only Google Plus network is considered in Google social search despite the fact that Google Plus is still far behind social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Nonetheless, Google Plus is expected to reach 400 million users this year.
In addition, the result of Google social search (personalized results) excludes contents from Google media sites like YouTube and Blogger, and this gives the feature too narrow focus.
Google Social Search: The Ugly
Google currently dominates online search, ahead of Bing and Yahoo search engines, and are therefore subtly using their dominance to enforce this feature on all their users by making it the default search engine result and neglecting top social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Already, Twitter has condemned this development and termed it as “bad for the people”; but Google later replied that Twitter could have renewed a deal to provide their contents to Google via API, but they did not.
Also in a way, the new “Search plus Your World” appears to be attempting to force Google plus that you probably aren’t using regularly into your life by all means. This means Google search results are almost becoming biased in the favor of Google plus.
Consequently, there are speculations that Google may have to battle antitrust regulators over this issue; but something the search giant should really care about is securing the trust of their users.
Search, plus Your World
How Google Social Search works
Social Search demonstration