Google “Search Plus Your World” – Opportunistic or Monopolistic?

I smell a lawsuit or at the very least a lot of hullabaloo. Google announced the next step towards Social Search with “Search, plus your world” . Whereby it will personalize Google search results by integrating social data from Google+. According to Google’s official blog post, here is a brief description of the service:

“We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships. We began this transformation with Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step in this direction by introducing three new features:

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
  2. 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,
  3. 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. Because behind most every query is a community.

Check out this video showcasing Google’s pitch

To sum up, according to PC World, we can expect to see more Google+ data in our Google searches with more Google+ profiles, business pages, posts, and Google+ and Picasa Photos.

So rather than showcasing results from third-party services like Twitter, Facebook and others, Google let all these deals expire and will now solely focus on showcasing Google+ results.

In my earlier post Social and Search and the new age power struggle I talked about how integrating social will be next step in the evolution of search, adding a level of intricacy to results. However, Google’s move to solely rely on Google+ seems a little naive and rather preposterous. I could understand this move if G+ had volumes on its side. But 62 million users does not comprise enough users and although engagement numbers are not exactly available, my experience on the website indicates that it is no where close to the activity level on Twitter. At the moment, most Google+ pages are either empty shells, being managed halfheartedly or being leveraged with complete gusto by early adopters. Google+ really does not have the results and depth of information that can do justice to social search.

But here is the part that irks me the most. Google Search clearly is the marquee product for Google, with roughly 65.4% market share according to comScore in November 2011. There is a reason why Google has maintained it position in search and that is its continuous focus on delivering the best results for its users. Its algorithm ensured that users found the most relevant and rich content that suited their need. So the move to embed just Google+ so deeply into its search results seems counter intuitive. Google+ presently does not have the richness other social sites display. Is it simply using its dominance in search to push a feature that might be useful to users? That doesnt seem like the Google I know and love.

Now according to Tech Crunch, Google is willing to work with other sites provided they offer them deep access to their data. But that seems highly doubtful, data is the one vital resource social sites have. Plus, Facebook has a strong partnership with Bing and Twitter did not renew its contract with Google last year. The company plans to roll out a new opt-out feature over the next few days to all users searching Google in English. But that doesnt seem good enough. What I would want to see from Google is to integrate and freely work with other social providers to integrate social into search. Yes Google+ is a key component of its strategy but pushing the site and solely focusing on it might dilute its product’s value proposition. So my advice to Google is tread lightly and test the waters.

What do you think about Search and your world? Is Google taking advantage of its size or is it smart to push Google+? Chime in through the comments section.

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