Google Blends Social Media Sharing and Search Results

How much is too much sharing when it comes to social media? We all have “friends” on our feeds that post incessantly throughout the day, divulging intimate details of their lives that no one truly wants to know. These over-sharers have been around a long time, and they’re probably not going to stop sharing personal information any time soon. Recently, the No. 1 search engine took personalization and online searches to a new level when Google launched Google Search, plus Your World.

The new functionality incorporates the content of Google+ users into the search results of anyone connected to that user. This means, if I run a Google search looking for good wine bars in the Gaslamp area, it’s quite possible that photos posted by my friends who attended San Diego Wine Wednesday at Proper Gastro Pub would populate in my results, along with the standard search results for that particular term. This new search system has some benefits, but also has some people longing to return to how things used to be.

There are two levels on which people seem to be upset about Google Search, plus Your World: concern over privacy, and annoyance at irrelevant results cluttering up searches for breaking news. Those concerned with not finding pertinent results should consider hiding Google+ results or switching to a new search engine altogether. By giving preference to Google+ content, Google Search, plus Your World pushes more informative results, like company websites, Wikipedia pages or news sites, to the bottom of the page. For those worried about privacy, this change serves as yet another reminder that anything made public on a social media profile is out there for the world to see.

This change provides both an opportunity and a challenge for brands. We already know developing content for a Google+ profile is important for a brand because Google admitted having a brand page on their social network would yield higher results in Google searches. Now we know that a brand’s Google+ content is even more likely to be seen by people who have placed the brand in their circles. However, it also means your company’s actual website and other non-Google+ content will be harder to find when a customer searches your name.

It’s important to note the added exposure to your brand’s social media content is limited to Google+ pages. Don’t expect your company’s Facebook page or Twitter account to be getting equal real estate any time soon. This change in search results is clearly pointed at giving exposure to Google’s burgeoning social network, not all social networks in general, and it’s made at least one other social network unhappy.

As more than 62 million Google+ users navigate the murky waters of their new search results, we wonder if Google will acknowledge the public’s dissatisfaction with its recent move. What’s your opinion on these changes? Have they given you a reason to favor Google over other search engines or look for a replacement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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