Hey Google, who asked you…. to ask my friends?
Earlier this week Google introduced “Search, plus Your World” through this video on Google’s YouTube channel.
The video is visually appealing and holds your attention, but for those of us who already know what Google+ and the +1 button are, I find the video to be a little too convoluted. After watching the video and posting my response to my social media profiles, I realized that this topic warrants more than just a post to these platforms. My thoughts should be shared with our readers here at Get Busy Media. Although Google’s new search results format is “cool” and can potentially help us in our decision-making processes when searching, this also has the potential to hinder or delay our “research” on Google.
To take a step back a moment, let me first address Google’s new Search Engine Results Page (SERP), where social fits within this, how this affects user behavior on Google and our thoughts about how you can leverage this radical update to Google’s SERPs.
What is “Search, plus your world?”
Google now displays content in its SERP’s that has been shared with you privately, as well as matches from the public web. Users will only see the new results page if she is logged into her Google account. By today, most users have seen the changes across the SERP’s. Here is a message you will see above the SERP’s once opted in to this:
Here’s the pros and the cons of the new Search plus Your World SERPs on Google:
– “The new system will perhaps make life much easier for some people, allowing them to find both privately shared content from friends and family plus material from across the web through a single search, rather than having to search twice using two different systems.” (Search Engine Land)
Amit Singhal, a Google engineer who oversees Google’s ranking algorithms, explains the unified Search Plus your World algorithm, “The social search algorithm, the personal search algorithm and the personalized search algorithm are actually one algorithm now, and we are merging it in a way that is very pleasant and useful.”
– With the new format, you have the option at the top of the results page to select or deselect your “Personal Results” view, which enables you to easily toggle back and forth between what type of results you want appearing on Google.
– Privacy is a major concern here: Among the concerns around privacy is that private content may become public unintentionally.
– Google is going to come under fire for leveraging its own search engine to exclusively push its social products (Google +). Search Plus Your World does not incorporate Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, among other top social networks, in its new search algorithm. Google has defended its position claiming that Facebook, Twitter and other prominent social networks do not allow Google to crawl them deeply and store social data.
Our Questions about the Platform
I have asked clients if they think their (potential) customers would rather click on a link that their friend(s) endorsed over one that wasn’t.. and most times he/she said yes. I agree with them. But in this statement lies the paradox: sometimes what our friends know and think is helpful to us, but often their advice isn’t and we don’t necessarily know how to differentiate between the two.
For example, if I know that I need a new car and don’t have any brands in mind or know much about cars, then searching and seeing endorsements by my friends could help expedite my decision-making process. At the very least my friends’ recommendations can jump-start my ZMOT experience. If I know what I want or know about cars or at least, the different features that are important to me, I may not need the input of my friends. Instead, it’s on me to do my due diligence and research my preferred car(s). If this process is influenced by my friends’ endorsements, than I may be steered off course or at the very least waste time weeding through what they have endorsed. I’m not saying that this integration is bad. I think that in many situations, the social aspect of Search Plus Your World can be beneficial to search, I’m just glad that there’s an off button.
Have you ever had a friend or colleague who dispensed advice on everything that came out of his mouth, solicited or not? That’s kind of what this is like. Even if we’re not looking for advice, it’s presented to us right there in the organic SERPs. As a small business, I think this change is HUGE. Any small business I have engaged with has mentioned the importance and power of word-of-mouth and community relationships. It’s important to leverage Google+ and the +1 button in your digital marketing strategy for 2012.
- Include the +1 button in your digital marketing strategy by placing it on all content and web assets.
- Encourage customers to +1 your website
- Have all employees +1 your website, facebook, etc. so that when their friends and other connections search for keywords related to your business, you show up.
We’re interested in hearing what you have to say! Please share your thoughts on the new search!
This post was a joint effort between Brittany and Jim. Thanks for your help with this one, Jim!