In their infinite wisdom, Google’s search team have decided that when you search Google.com, you really want to search Google+. So as of today, they’re beginning to drop your social data into your search results.
They’re calling this new development “Search, plus Your World”, and it was announced on the Official Google Blog yesterday:
“Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more. But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box.
“We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.”
What Does This Mean?
Simply put, it means that Google will now look at your Google+ network as well as the Google search database when you do a search. And, when Google deem appropriate, photos, status updates and profiles from Google+ will be dropped into your search results.
For example, if you search for “Christmas Party Venues”, you’ll see a few organic Google results, a map with local venues, status updates from your friends lamenting the fact that they drank too much at their own Christmas Party, photographs of you, drunk at your Christmas Party, and some AdWords results. Which is a far cry from the days of ten, trustworthy organic listings and a spattering of ads.
When Will I See Social Results?
For now, only people who are logged into their Google account and are searching from Google.com will see social results. And, in the short term at least, they’ll be told that their search might incorporate social results (see the image above).
So if you’re searching from Google.co.uk, or you’re logged out of your Google account, you’ll just see relevant web results, as chosen by the Google search algorithm. Which is nice.
Is This Really a Good Idea?
Time will tell, but initial comments aren’t positive. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, people aren’t emotionally invested in their Google+ networks, and aren’t particularly interested in seeing a smattering of photographs from their circles.
And with Plus still being far smaller than Facebook, a few dissenting voices are claiming that there’s not really enough social data available to make this move worthwhile, and that the majority of Google users don’t have Plus accounts and as such won’t be affected.
Google do want to involve Facebook in the future, but the social networking giant is currently partnered up with Google’s search rivals Bing. So don’t expect to see a link any time soon.
For now, this integrated social search is optional – so if you’re happy with Google’s usual results, just don’t sign into your Google account.
But what do you think? Is this the future of search, a gimmick, or a ploy to increase Google+’s userbase? Let us know in the comments section.