Google is set to roll out a radical change to the search results so many of us have come to rely upon daily. Called “Search Plus Your World,” the change will blend content shared by your friends into the search engine results page (“SERP”) you see. If, that is, you’re logged into Google and you’re actively using Google+ and other services.
As Google put it on their blog, “You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box.”
According to Google, once the change is rolled out, users who are logged into Google will see the following content added to their search results:
- Personal Results, including Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you
- Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
- People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks.
Maybe I’ve not had enough coffee this morning and am feeling a bit grumpy, but this feels like a thinly veiled attempt to promote Google+ usage.
Forgive me, but I’m skeptical. First and foremost, while I’m on Google+, I’m not terribly active. I’ve invested in building my networks over on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and it’s to those established networks I gravitate. So it’s safe to say that I will be biased against services that are centered on Google+.
Secondly, and this is my real problem with increasingly personalized search results, chances are pretty good I’ve already seen the content that was shared with me on my social networks. When I turn to Google, it’s because I’m looking for something else. You know, something that I’ve not already seen. I don’t need to see the item that was at the top of my Facebook newsfeed or prominently featured on the web site I just visited. Actually, Google would provide tremendous value if it could focus on serving up relevant content it knows I’ve not seen!
Profiles in search – something PR people should pay attention to
My own grousing aside, there is one very important new feature that I’m taking advantage of – and you should too, if you’re interested in promoting yourself or someone else as a thought leader, or if you do any sort of influencer targeting and outreach – the display of personal profiles in search results.
Specifically, Google notes that Profiles in Search will display “autocomplete predictions for various prominent people from Google+, such as high-quality authors from our authorship pilot program.”
The authorship program enables writers to link their content to their Google profile. People finding content from that author will also see a link to that author’s profile, along with an invitation to follow the author, making it easy for people to find and follow them.
It really is pretty slick, and the visibility benefits are undeniable.
Okay. Fine. This might provide the impetus for me to start using Google+ with a bit more enthusiasm and vigor – just as the folks at Google hope. Playing nicely with the world’s biggest search engine certainly can’t do anything but help build visibility for the content one publishes.
Author Sarah Skerik is on Google+, albeit somewhat reluctantly. You can also follow her on Twitter @sarahskerik. Sarah is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.