Earlier this week, Google rolled out a drastic change to its search engine. That change is called Search Plus Your World – public and private content will now be shown in its search results.
Danny Sullivan provides an exhaustive account of what this means for you, and actually everyone, in the future.
This new search engine can make it easier for people to find both privately shared information from your friends and family, while also integrating content from the web.
The image above shows some of the new features.
- The search results now show your personal results (40) out of normal results (167).
- The new toggles on the right allow you to show or hide your personal results.
- When you scroll your mouse over a search result, the result image will enlarge on the right.
All of these can be useful if you use Google+ as your means to social media.
So what does this new system actually show since Google now displays your personal account information.
From Danny Sullivan:
- Listings from the web
- Listings from the web, boosted because of your personal behavior
- Listings from the web, boosted because of your social connections
- Public Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos (all of which are also listings from the web)
- Private or “Limited” Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos shared with you
Private post shared by you on Google+ are now shown in the SERPs. From my understanding, these posts will only be seen by you and others that are in your selected “Circles”. Although I could be wrong in that assumption in which case there is a terrible privacy issue at hand.
Another issue is that through your personal setting you can only bring out results for social media with Google+. You will not get any results showing for Facebook or Twitter.
Amit Singal explains “Facebook and Twitter and other services, basically, their terms of service don’t allow us to crawl them deeply and store things. Google+ is the only [network] that provides such a persistent service.”
That doesn’t mean that Google wouldn’t be OK to include both social media companies in the search result listings, but in that there lies the rub. It is impossible to provide the best, most accurate, and thorough search results when you blatantly leave relevant results out of the search results.
Google has a very real liability issue if your private information and content can be seen by others. Also, what’s to stop Google from selling that information to advertisers and give them access to much of your personal account.
Danny Sullivan also adds “Mixing private content in with its search results means that anyone searching without a secure connection potentially exposes that private content to eavesdropping.”
Along with privacy issues, whenever you are signed in to Google you will be signed into “Your World.” Instead of getting to choose to opt-in of the program, you must opt-out through Google settings to stop the personalized search.
There has been a loud voice criticizing Google for these changes and not just from competitors. Google took a very (rather uncharacteristic) misstep in their handling of this new system. There needs to be changes to make things fair for competitors and to insure the safety for their users.
There are so many issues at hand that I haven’t gone over. Go to Search Engine Land and read Danny Sullivan’s take here. In the post there is also many (many) links over the issue. Read on up to get the entire picture.