Last week, Google changed its search algorithm to include results from its social network, Google+. This is huge, since it will reshuffle search results based upon personal information from the Google+ network. When Google+ users are signed in, their search results will appear based upon info from their Google+ social networks. It seems Google ultimately intends to personalize results for all its search engine users. At over one billion unique visitors each month, any such changes that Google make are sure to revolutionize web search.
Not everyone is pleased with these changes however. Twitter has criticized Google of purposefully excluding Twitter’s content in its search. Google fired back that Twitter already blocks this content from Google’s creepy sounding indexing spiders (I’m afraid of spiders, yuck).
Privacy experts are also concerned that Google is invading the personal privacy of its social network users. In a statement on its website, the Electronics Privacy Center (EPIC) complains, “Google’s changes make the personal data of users more accessible. Users can opt out of seeing personalized search results, but cannot opt out of having their information found through Google search.”
In response to criticism, Google has launched the Good to Know privacy campaign. Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy told the LA Times: “Given who we are, we have a strong incentive to make the Internet a place that people feel safe to do interesting things.”
Some are even questioning if these changes will harm the diversity and depth of Google’s search. By tailoring results for each person, Google could skip over a lot of other potentially useful information. For example, if I type “Web Design Glenwood Springs” into Google, I may only get results from friends on Google+, instead of actual web designers in Glenwood Springs.
I learned in my Web Design class at CMC the importance of creating content specifically for Google search. This is called Search Engine Optimization, and it is the lifeblood of internet marketing. Google’s recent changes could also greatly impact how people advertise themselves online, and how search engine results are listed. This is akin to reinventing the wheel.