Initial Thoughts on Google Search Plus (Your World)
I think Ben Parr puts it better than I could on his latest blog post: The Google+ Antitrust Disaster:
“The move was something that I expected, but I don’t think anybody expected the integration to be so massive. You can’t browse Google without seeing Google+ everywhere.”
I agree. Search Plus is fine in theory, and Google SHOULD integrate social and Google+ into its algorithm, but this particular implementation by Google is overkill, and that’s an understatement. +1’s dominate the algorithm to a point beyond logic or usefulness. The ads for people to circle are way too pushy. It’s just way too much.
Danny Sullivan points out some great example as to how Search Plus sacrifices relevancy for social noise/promotion of Google+ in his post here: http://searchengineland.com/examples-google-search-plus-drive-facebook-twitter-crazy-107554
But what hit home more than anything was a simply vanity search. I google “Nick Roshon” and here is the SERP:
My own website no longer ranks above the fold for my name…wow. It’s a three year old site with a couple thousands links, PageRank 3, and an exact match domain. My Google+ profile is a few months old at most, and the only links to it are from my website itself…I can’t help but nod my head in agreement with those crying foul that Google is giving itself an special treatment in the SERPs, as from an SEO perspective there is no way my website should rank below Google+ and images I’ve shared on Google+.
On one hand, I totally understand & believe in the need for search results that are better informed by social connections and social data. However, Search Plus takes this idea to an extreme, where the link graph and standard notions of relevancy are being drowned out by even the faintest social signal. Even worse, the Search Plus Your World results are shown by default for all searches (rather than triggered algorithmically when it makes sense, or even better defaulted to off and turned on selectively by users when appropriate). There is no way to escape Google+ in the new Google Search Plus.
I think the experiment Google did in Google Labs back in January 2010 which displayed “Results from your social circle” was an example of how they could have done Search Plus well. This experiment (which never graduated beta status in Labs) displayed a small onebox within the SERPS showing a handful of results recently shared by those in your social connections.
Instead, Search Plus (Your World) isn’t a small onebox, it’s a full-on takeover of the SERP.
It’s a risky move by Google, as it drastically changes Google’s renowned search results in favor of an entirely new experience focused around Google+. While the general public, as well as search experts, typically believe Google has better results than Bing, I wonder how this will change with Google Search Plus, as it’s such a fundamental change in the search results that Google barely seems familiar anymore. I still think the average user hasn’t a faintest clue what Google+ is or why they should use it, which should make an even more confusing experience for those searchers…and those searchers are likely the first to leave.
My guess is that Google will scale back Search Plus drastically, and turn down the overwhelmingly powerful ranking factors powered by Google+ and Google products in favor of a more egalitarian and comprehensive view at relevance and authority. Or I guess that’s my hope, anyway…