Google’s “Search, Plus Your World” Personalizes Search Results
Last week, Google launched its latest update to web browsing, called “Search, plus Your World.” The purpose is to grant easier access to personal search results, because Google believes that these results should hold equal weight with their recommendations. The new search function combines worldwide and personal searches.
Previously, these two features have both been accessible, but in separate search areas. To find personal information prior to the change, you had to search Google Plus specifically, but now you can just search Google and click the link for “personal results” located directly below it.
With Search, plus Your World, members of Google Plus can now have easier access to their personal media files than ever before. Private photos are now included in searches, so you could, for example, find pictures of a friend by simply searching for that person’s name.
Search, plus Your World will also recommend related webpages that friends have “+1”-ed. Google Plus offers the option to “+1” a website, article, picture, or any online media, essentially acting as your personal seal of approval and recommendation to your friends to check it out. Now these are easier to access.
Why Search, Plus Your World is Beneficial
So why would you need to use a personal search engine? Because your personal tastes should be taken into account as much as what Google’s algorithm determines is relevant
For example, if you type “football” in a personal Google search, you can now also get results from a sports blog written by a friend, a picture of your baby nephew holding a football, and a YouTube video of “The 10 Hardest Football Hits” that was “+1”-ed by an acquaintance. These are not frequented enough to turn up in real world searches for the keyword “football,” but because they have a personal connection to the inquirer, they will be given priority.
And why shouldn’t these mean more? If I were planning a vacation to Hawaii, I would ask my friends which island, resorts, and activities they prefer before I consulted a travel agency. Now, these preferences get selected by Google when I search for them.
While all this is well and good, here are the potential shortcomings or downfalls of the new personal search features.
First off, it should really be called “Search Google Plus” instead of “Search, plus Your World,” because the only social media it accounts for is Google Plus. Unless they have been “+1”-ed, you will not see photos from Facebook, messages from Twitter, profiles from Pinterest, or restaurants reviewed on Yelp. It is possible that this may lead to these websites allowing Google to index their private material, but that depends on their privacy statements and relation to the company.
Another fear is that personal searches will be better at digging up old, unwanted photos. While pictures marked as private will only display in Search, plus Your World if the person has previously been permitted to view them, this still may cause problems.
As an example, pretend you took some pictures in a bikini during your days in college and only shared them to your closest friends. Years down the road, an old friend may be trying to buy a new bikini, looking at diets for bikini season, or just looking for pictures of girl’s in bikinis and they stumble upon your picture in a personal search. With the ease of public sharing, pretty soon everyone on the web could have access to that picture. Now imagine you are a man and those pictures were part of your fraternity’s initiation. Gulp.
What It All Means
While this is potentially catastrophic news, the truth is that it seems a bit underwhelming. Although Google Plus is experiencing widespread membership growth, it still is fairly underutilized in comparison to Facebook and Twitter. To have any major effect, it would either need to incorporate the two other social networking sites or overtake them.
What this does change is the importance of “+1”-ing websites. Before, when you clicked the “+1” button you were sharing it with personal Google Plus connections who visited your profile. Now these submissions will become an essential element of their internet searches.
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