Google’s Personalized Search Results
A few weeks ago, I first discussed Google’s move to personalize user’s search results to include social search results within the web search results users have seen since the release of Google search itself. Google introduced Social Search in 2009, but it wasn’t until early this year that they hit headlines with it. New updates to the tool integrated it with Google+ and posted the social results within regular web search results (previously the social search results were shown at the bottom of the screen). Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter were ablaze as many users noticed the social search results seemed to heavily emphasize content on Google+. They claimed Google was unfairly placing Google+ social results higher in search results than content from Facebook and Twitter.
I got a little curious this week about these claims, so I made a simple search on Google with the keyword “Facebok.” Imagine my surprise when social results from Google+ weren’t mixed in with the web search results, but placed in the right-hand column of the screen where you would typically see Google ads.
Sure, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg makes it first on the list, but every single result is from Google+. I understand that Google+ is part of Google, but given that Google is the largest search engine in the world, you would expect them to be a little less obvious about their heavy emphasis on Google+ social search results.
So, as Google continues to try to take over the world, what does this mean for brands? To increase their SEO and appear in social search results, it seems we might be seeing more brands developing Google+ pages. In return, this means brands will work at driving traffic to these pages, which means more active Google+ account holders. This means more advertising, more money for Google+, and one more step for Google to become the top property for everything online.
What’s obvious here is you can tell Google is struggling with its Google+ social network and is willing to do anything to get it back up to the glory that it was when it was first launched and users were clamoring to get invited to join the social tool. However, until Google can finally decide what Google+’s value proposition and niche in the marketplace is, I think users will still be confused as to where the tool fits into their lives. After all, there really can only be one Facebook, and we’ve witnessed this with the downfall of MySpace. Google needs to figure itself out before Google+’s time has passed.