Google just can’t leave it alone. The world’s largest and most successful search engine, one that generated over $36 BILLION in revenue last year, can’t be satisfied with being the most successful search engine ever. No, it looks at Facebook and Twitter and wants to be “social.” Actually, Google has wanted to be “social” for a long time, but couldn’t figure out how to do it successfully. Remember Google Buzz?
You may or may not be aware that Google has changed its search algorithm (the mathematical formula that is used to generate the results that you see when you search on Google) to provide personalized search results influenced by the behavior of your friends in Google’s online social communities (Google+ / Google Circles, Messenger and Hangouts). They call this “Search Plus Your World” (SPYW).
What does this mean? If you Google search “sushi restaurants,” you’ll get results based on what your friends using Google+ have liked, commented on or “+1-ed” instead of the type of search results that you’ve come to expect. Ah…that explains all those “Google+ this” icons that we see on every search result.
So, when you search using Google, you may not be getting what you asked for! There is a way to turn off SPYW, as HuffPost’s Larry Magid explains in this blog post. For a company that prides itself on the accuracy (through constant tweaking) of it’s search algorithm, it seems strange that the SPYW results are based on a lot of randomness – the friends in your Google social network, the number of that actually “Google+” something that they like, etc.
To me, that’s not very accurate. And, I don’t seem to be the only one. In a blog post on MediaPost’s Online Spin titled “Google You Suck” by Kalia Colbin, she says: “The reason you got a billion search users in the first place is because you’re really really good at what you do best, and the reason you’re failing so badly at social is because it’s so obviously not what you do best. Circles? Really? Doesn’t it occur to you that if that one issue were such a massive deal-breaker, Facebook wouldn’t have 850 million active users?” And, later, “Google, remember how you became so awesome. It was by focusing on the user: by having a deep insight into the needs of people searching the Web and an empathetic understanding of the indicators of quality content online.”
Google, obviously, wants to be all things interactive to all people, with “social” at the top of their list. Google is envious of the social worlds created by Facebook and Twitter. And, by the way, Google and Twitter have their own little tussle going on, as described on TechCrunch.
But Google, with $36 Billion in revenue, may be jeopardizing that trying , again, to be something that they’ve never really figured out how to be.
What do you think? Does this impact the validity that you give to Google search results? Do you Google+?