Google’s search results are undergoing their most radical transformation ever, as a new “Search Plus Your World” was rolled out towards the end of last week. It finds both content that’s been shared with you privately along with matches from the public web, all mixed into a single set of listings. The renovations made in Google’s search abilities will lead to search results now featuring photos, comments and news from Google Plus postings.
However, this may have let Google into some hot water, with their latest venture into the world of social media coming under renewed fire in the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust probe, according to news reports.
Apparently, the FTC will be looking into Google which is said to be exploiting its undisputed lead in the search market, in favour of their own product. Google Plus is a site that is believed by many to be the most capable contender to challenge Facebook’s domination in the social media market.
Google Plus, which was launched last year and is seen as an amalgam of both Facebook and Twitter, as the site blends many of both those two platforms’ features together, with its own unique offerings, has already hit over sixty million users so far. Yet given the less-than-flattering feedback from these users, a platform that can compete with Facebook may take some time to achieve.
What does this mean for privacy?
Google Plus cause some privacy worries, as private content may appear as if it is exposed publicly (The feature will only be present for those who have and are signed into a Google Plus account). It might also cause concern by making private content more visible to friends and family than those sharing may have initially intended.
The new format and features will also likely cause Google to come under renewed fire that it is leveraging its search engine to favour its own content and crowd out competitors. However, this debate will no doubt roll on for a while to come.
To summarize, personalised results include:
• Listings from the web
• Listings from the web, boosted because of your personal behaviour
• 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
The last line is the most radical change, that private content will now be visible in what seems to be a search across the entire web.
Is any of this important to me?
Well, it could be if you’re a marketer. As we mentioned, the platform now has over 60m users, true many of them are probably dormant accounts, but with Google seemingly favouring/pushing/self-promoting Google plus results, how long do you think it will be before online marketers/SEOs/inbound marketers or whatever you wish to call them take Google Plus serious?
I don’t think Google would be spending time promoting this product if it didn’t have legs, so ignore it at your peril. Personally I won’t take the chance on missing out, so I’ll certainly be using it on a regular basis and once the platform matures, I’ll make my assumptions on its success then.