I've been wondering how long it would be before this happened. I'm actually surprised it took this long.
But then again, we're talking about Google here.
Google has updated its search engine
to include "social search," giving users the ability to search not only the web at large, but also their own social network on Google+. For example, if you perform a search on Chicco carseats, you'll see the regular search results as well as anything you or your friends may have posted on the topic in Google+.
At first glance, it's a smart response to all of the I-could've-told-you-that research indicating that people are more likely to trust recommendations from their friends than from strangers (Really? You don't say!). Plus, the whole social search concept sounds really cool. Unless, of course, you don't use Google+.
And therein lies a problem, which Twitter has no qualms about compounding.
: Google's social search unfairly gives better play to Google+, and does not return the most relevant social results. Frankly, Twitter's got a point. If a brand or company has more of a following on Twitter than it does on Google+, shouldn't the Twitter results show up in a search first?
Take the WWE example that's getting a lot of play in the Mashable articles on this topic: Twitter complains that even when you type in "@WWE" into a Google search, you don't get WWE's Twitter page. Google's response? "We don't index the @ symbol." So, Google reads the search query as "WWE," and therefore gives you all the regular search results plus the Google+ results. Twitter is completely cut out of the equation, despite the fact that WWE's Twitter page has nearly 32 times the number of followers as the Google+ page.
But how many times have you heard us preach about how followers aren't everything when it comes to a social presence? It's the CONVERSATION, not the collection of followers, that makes a presence relevant.
So a brand has 32 times the followers on its Twitter page that it does on its Google+ page. What if a higher percentage of the Google+ followers are actually engaging in conversation about the brand? Wouldn't that make the Google+ page more relevant? Yes, in a perfect world.
But if the Google+ page is basically a ghost town compared to the Twitter page, then it is indeed unfair for Google+ to rank higher than Twitter in this instance.
What many fail to acknowledge here is that Google is not some publicly funded non-profit entity. It is a publicly traded company with shareholders and a product that's so good it monopolizes its particular market. It's not really interested in being "fair," because it doesn't have to be. It created a social product, and wants it to be successful. It seems only natural for Google to carry out that goal by hitching it the meal ticket that is its search platform.
I'm not saying it's right. It's just...well, capitalism.
What are your thoughts on this change to Google search?