Google has done it again. Done what you may ask? They have made yet another attempt to ram their social network “Google +” down its search users’ throat. This attempt has no doubt been their strongest effort to date to push their fledgling product on the masses. Google reps have cloaked their desperate attempts to pawn their lifeless, barren wasteland of a social network as a disguised effort that they “are bettering search” for their users.
The forcing of their social network started back with the redesign of several of Google’s services once Google+ went live to the public. Google+ was created in attempt to beat Facebook at their own game. While Google+ offered a few new innovative features like “Circles” (allowing users to group which of their stories were shared with who) and “Hangouts” (allowing users to video chat with several friends simultaneously). Facebook, as predicted by many knowledgeable Internet professionals, didn’t blink.
You may recall the black navigation bar that became a permanent fixture at the top of any and all of Google pages. On that not-so-subtle black navigation bar housed a link for “+You”, which put their social network in front of every Google goer. buttons, much like the Facebook “Like” button, started not only appearing on their search results pages, but website owners placed the button in hopes of raising their organic rankings. What made website owners believe that a button could possibly improve their ranking? Simple. Google has put out and continues to push literature explaining that they are continuing to alter their search algorithm to include social signals.
Social signals, as in how often a given webpage is tweeted or retweeted. Also supposedly included in the social signal search algorithm, how many “likes” a webpage or website receives via the Facebook “Like” button. And last but not least, Google gives a slight boost to websites on how many times it was ‘ed.
Months have gone by since the button was introduced and (while Google + has reached over 90 million users) many are considering Google+ a failing network. Despite the abundance of G+ users, the frequency of returning users has taken a nose dive since the network’s inception.
Admittedly, there were the majority of users like myself who couldn’t wait to sign up. Google+ was that shiny new toy that we couldn’t wait to get our hands on. After playing with our new social network for a few days, we realized that it quickly lacked relevancy in our lives do to the fact that none of our friends migrated there. No matter what, you may love or hate Facebook, but YOUR FRIENDS are on there. The same cannot be said for Google+ now and most likely going forward.
For G+ to succeed and be a TRULY relevant social signal for Search+, Google+ needs to have a network effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect. The value of Google+ is dependent on the number of your friends using it.
Fast forward to this month, January 2012. In their best attempt yet at forcing G+ further down users’ throats, Google has unveiled “Search, plus your World” that favor websites ‘ed by social network pseudo-friends and acquaintances. It also allows Google+ social network pages and photos to leap ahead of long standing websites in the search results. Initially, it’s not a big deal. Their unveiling of “personalized” search results shows the continued merge of social and search.
“Personalized” should remain in quotes because I refuse to accept what they’re selling as personalized. If you are telling me that personalized results display a website I’ve previously visited should show up on the first page of my search results for a given topic, I can agree with that. But to tell me a given website is more relative because a someone I have a quasi connection with shared it, that’s going too far.
Google has personalized results through your G+ connections, and Google has gone as far as to display content from “suggested” G+ connections. It’s not truly personalized or relevant if your friends aren’t there.
Their shameless attempt to make their social network more relavant by including it in “personalized” search results reeks of desperation. My negative tone throughout this piece merely expresses my dissatisfaction with the direction in which Google search is moving. Are they not satisfied with having far and away the largest search engine market share?
Hmmmm… who was the person who complained to Google? Who was that person that said… “You know what guys, your search results just aren’t personalized enough for me!” Could it be that no one complained? Could it be they’re attempting to fix something that isn’t broken by furthering their own agenda?
I’ll be surfing on Bing and Yahoo if you need me.
Just kidding! I’m not THAT desperate. And yes, I did this article.
Tweet @BAMadvertising your feelings on Google’s “Search, plus your World.”