Get ready, because Google is getting personal.
The new launch of Google’s “Search Plus Your World” is the latest evolution in the Internet giant’s ever-expanding wave of algorithm restructuring in an effort to refine users’ search results, and unlike other frequent tweaks this change will be hard to miss.
This most recent revision essentially combines search results that contain personal information stored by users that they share with other members in the Google+ network (e.g., photos and posts) with Internet results on the same search engine results page (SERP). It is important to note, however, that although the private information appears in the results it is not publicly displayed.
The new changes help shed some light on Google’s ongoing business and algorithmic engineering decisions, particularly the launch of the Google+ social network and the secure search capabilities within it. The integrated nature of search when signed in to Google will allow users to streamline their personal and Internet searches, and make new connections between friends, trending topics, product searches and shared information.
Some experts wonder whether the broadened search capability will raise privacy concerns among users. Google+ users will notice it is the new default system, and results may feel a little too personal even though on-screen indicators are available to help sift through the different results and otherwise control the level of exposure.
Google’s motivations for this integration are clear in that they want to capture more of the search market share by increasing relevance of searches, but it will also obviously make the Google+ social network more relevant – and attractive to users. Twitter reps spoke out about the change, arguing that the new SERPs will be heavy on Google content that will eclipse other results, like tweets.
The Twitter statement is an indirect note that Search Plus Your World will not contain data users have shared through Facebook and Twitter, because there is no agreement between the companies to share information. Many will likely feel this is a good thing, considering the very serious privacy implications it raises, although there are no guarantees these wards of personal information will remain unaffiliated.
Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists are also interested in how the new Google will change Internet marketing. A major driver for the creation of “social search” is that consumers are more influenced by their peers’ buying habits, which Search Plus Your World will bring to the forefront as SERPs display friends’ opinions about searches for products, restaurants, vacation spots, etc.
This may mean a need for SEO experts to consider new strategies that better address these changes as Google pushes “social search” into the mainstream, and users grow accustomed to a new era in Web search
James Madeiros is a staff writer at Sparkplug Digital, a Seattle SEO company providing online marketing strategy and execution for tech companies and non-profits.