Google Search+ – You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink

by Peter Young on January 11, 2012 · 2 comments

Its a strange use of the above idiom however I have to say it was one of the first things that came into my head having now had the ‘pleasure’ of Google’s new expanded social functionality within the new mainstream Google search results pages. One may suggest I am averse to change, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. For most SEO’s change has become part of the job description, as Google tweak, change, test to ‘give users the best experience’ – and for many of us it forms part of our wider night time activities (I know what your thinking) in terms of various affiliate and business ventures many SEO’s have behind the scenes.

Change is something in particular, SEO’s have had their fair share of over the last six months or so – and certainly the changes announced by Google yesterday are comparable to many of the earlier changes announced by Google during that period. The integration of features such as more personalised results, the integration of personalised images could have a profound effect on how users interact with their search engine.

Further more the people and pages functionality provides a greater level of detail and personalisation into my search results, as Google integrates the wisdom of the crowds into my personalised web experience.

There is one big problem with much of this most recent rollout and that is the with the degree to which personalisation is beginning to impact on the entire search experience. One can see what Google are trying to do here, and I can see the logic in doing so however much like many of their other recent tweaks and changes it comes with a degree of cynacism attached. Strange again that we see a product rolled out yet again which significantly favours Google real estate above and beyond that of many other real estate (not going to get into the subject of co-incidence, correlation etc here) but much of this does appear to favour their inventory in the search engines. Further to that, the fact much of this new advancements come as standard, and one actually has to turn this off to get a non personalised experience.

This has one significant drawback, it relies on on engaged Google+ audience to work – however in my eyes it shares many similarities to the days where Microsoft Windows defaulted to Internet Explorer as standard and where Windows came on the majority of PC’s out there. Microsoft pushing Microsoft and the similarities to those days appear to be there for all to see. Its going to be interesting to see as with Microsoft whether we see any impact from bodies like the FTC as to privacy or antitrust concerns – however certainly I would be surprised in the short term as to whether we will see anything of that scale of here (though be interesting to see how the Germans and US deal with this.)

The fact it needs Google+ to be effective could work too fold. This does feel more like a direct shot across the bows at Facebook. A real big shot aimed at stealing userbase away from the social monster that is Facebook. This could be an absolute masterstroke from Google, it could also be a significant flop and one which may have significant repurcutions. We can only wait and see on that one. With that in mind, we come back to the idiom above. Google appear to be throwing significant weight behind Google+ now – and more closely tying it into their primary commercial vehicle. However until Google really break that social vehicle and give me a reason to want to engage socially much as Facebook have done I still feel the real attraction to move away from Facebook isn’t there for one to change and as such may still leave this as underutilised. We will see…

Where I do feel Google could get real traction on this is if there was more impartiality. Twitter have already been vocal regarding their concerns on the rollout as is, and I would be surprised if we didn’t hear more from Facebook at some point. Integrating true wisdom of the crowds into such a personalised rollout would really throw credibility to this and create a more rounded perspective of peoples behaviours, likes and dislikes.

After all, my Google+ activity is certainly not a reflection on my personal character and thus this links me to possibly the biggest issue of all. The success of this personalisation is very much dependant on an all in approach. That is me making Google ‘the center of my universe’ and sharing with it all aspects of my likes and dislikes. To do that as I said before they need to break that social barrier – as otherwise it will be nothing more than what I suspect it is now…

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Google+ Comments

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

seogear February 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

With the introduction of social search Google + opens up more opportunities for SMM. I think it’s very good.

ellisons advertising February 24, 2012 at 11:31 am

It bothers me that brands are being forced into Google plus to remain relevant to their SEO strategies. Having said that I think it could be good for accumulating Google page ranking.

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