Putting the Google search controversy in perspective

by Jeff Hilimire on January 17, 2012

Google made a major announcement about their search engine on January 10th. While theoretically the changes they announced are made to improve search results by making them more relative, the point that most people took from it was that Google is going to favor Google+, their social network, over other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

It’s caused a huge controversy. Some people are really upset. Twitter is mad. Some people are just having fun.

A lot of people I talk to aren’t sure if this is a big deal. Unless Google decides to go back on favoring Google+ over other social networks, I assure you it is a big deal.

Imagine if Yelp bought a bunch of seafood restaurants. Then imagine if they pre-rated those restaurants with five stars ensuring that they were at the top of your search for “seafood restaurants”. Would that be fair? No. Would you question whether or not you’d want to use Yelp anymore? Of course you would.

Google is doing the same thing by ranking their social network, which is anemic compared to Facebook and Twitter, ahead of everyone else. No longer is Google serving up the most relevant content via their search engine. Instead, you’re getting the most relevant content except for the times when Google decides it wants to drive more traffic to its own properties.

Good business for Google+. Bad business for Google Search.

Which one do they make all their money from again?

This is a big deal.

  • http://www.brainwads.net/drewhawkins Drew Hawkins

    Agree. I hate the fact that my content would rank higher if I blogged inside of Google+ than inside my own custom made blog. I love Google apps, droids and all but I may start using Bing for search. 

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  • Tlynch

    I think that since the Google+ results that are appearing seem to be so irrelevant currently, unless that improves with growth in user adoption, people will likely just stay logged out of their Goog+ accounts in order to see more relevant search results. If Google starts showing those results, regardless of + use, then I think we’ll really start to see how it impacts users perspective of Google.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Good point TL, hadn’t considered that people might just start logging out of their Google+ accounts. Either way (logging out vs. using another search engine), it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  • Thomas L. Strickland

    The “Don’t Be Evil” tool is remarkably revealing: http://www.focusontheuser.org/

    Though really, if you’re running AdBlock while browsing, the new Google tweaking will mostly go unnoticed.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    I wonder what happens when you search via a mobile device? Any idea if they’ve deployed this to the mobile experience too? If so, the AdBlock software isn’t gonna help much.

  • Thomas L. Strickland

    It doesn’t look like mobile search has been G+’d yet, but that’s likely limited by the platform … at least so far. 

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