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Search, Plus Your World
Earlier this month Google announced the launch of a new ‘Search, plus Your World’ feature in the US, which shows personalised search results influenced by what your friends on Google+ are saying and pushes Google+ results up in its search rankings at the expense of other social networks. This personalised search is set to default if you are signed in but can be turned off permanently by clicking on search settings and then, under personal results, click ‘Do not use personal results’.
However if this personalised search is turned off and a user is not signed into Google, even then Google will display People and Pages on Google+, favouring results from its own social network while ignoring more relevant links from rival social networks like Facebook & Twitter despite the fact that they are updated more often than Google + people and pages and have more users. On the release of this social results feature, Twitter claimed that it was a "bad day for the internet".
Facebook and Twitter have always had valuable data on 'what people like, or are talking about'. Realising how powerful that data is, they did not want to share it with search giant Google. The two companies decided to not license that data to Google, so Google decided to collect its own through G+ and the +1 Button. They also realigned their search results to provide more relevant search results based upon the Google+ search.
Focus on the user – Don’t be Evil
Thus Twitter and Facebook reacted by releasing open source software in the form of a bookmarklet, 'Don’t Be Evil', which can be found on the ‘focus on the user’ website. This extension tool amends the search results using information from Google itself and considers all of the ranking decisions made by Google’s own algorithms, with no other services, APIs or proprietary data stores.
The bookmarklet shows improved search engine results in the following way:
1. People & Pages Results
The screenshot below shows the difference before and after using the ‘Don’t be Evil’ bookmarklet. It not only shows Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but people and pages from all major social networking sites including You Tube, Foursquare and Tumblr.
2. The 'Organic' Results
The organic results are also amended by this 'focus on the user' extension for brand results. Before bookmarklet is installed, Google displays the two most recent Google+ results underneath the first result. With the focusontheuser the search engine displays the Daily Mail's Facebook & Twitter page.
3. The Results Typehead
Before installing ‘focus on the user’ the results typehead displays Matt Cutt’s Google Plus page only, but after installation it shows Matt Cutts’s Twitter page instead.
Should Google 'focus on the user' instead and not be evil by favouring its own social network for all three search engine results? Should it consider integrating the ‘focus on the user’ script into its own algorithm to provide a better search experience for its users?