Will Google Plus become the most widely used online social network? Or will the majority of Google users hate it?
I have no idea.
But I do know that Search, Plus Your World is having a huge impact my search results.
Which means, at least for now, it’s changing what, or more accurately, who you will see when you search.
Which might make it a good opportunity for you to connect with professionals and other people that are sharing “stuff” about the “stuff” you’re searching for.
To me, Search, Plus Your World isn’t just a new feature of search. It’s a fundamental change to the very fabric of search. Historically, search results ordered information on the web based on a collection of signals across the entire web (i.e. relative relevance and popularity across the entire index). With Search, Plus your world, at least in theory, and only in part, results are much more influenced by a smaller set of signals (i.e. people with whom you’re connected).
Here’s what Google says:
Search has always brought you information from across the web. Now, search gets better by including photos, posts, and more from you and your friends. When signed in with Google+, you’ll find personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. You can even expand your world by discovering people related to your search.
A little help from your friends
We all turn to people we know and trust for great recommendations. With personal results, you’ll see relevant tips, photos, and posts from your friends right alongside results from the web.
Just for you
Personal results are marked with a icon so you know they’re just for you. Because these results are personal and private, you’ll need to be signed in to Google to see them.
Control what you see
On any given search, you can toggle to hide personal results. To do this, simply click on the icon in the top right of your search results page.
There are really 3 primary new features:
- Personal results
- Profiles in search
- Related people and pages
But that description doesn’t really do justice to how much search results are impacted by the “plus your world” part. Here are a couple examples.
I start searching for Sam:
Before I even get to Glover, Google finishes my search and serves up Sam’s Google Plus profile as a possible option. It also serves up some recent entries Sam posted to Plus, as well as, some pictures.
And when I select his profile, and enter a search for jawbone, I get this:
And that’s a big difference from traditional non-personalized results. But what about more general searches that don’t reference someone I know?
Like a search for NFL:
Very interesting. I haven’t circled (and frankly am not really a fan of) Chris Harris, the Chargers, or the Redskins. But they are certainly related to my search.
And if I click on 70 personal results i get:
Hey, stuff related to my search from people with whom I’m connected. Clearly, a much different search experience from the non-personal results.
Plus Your Law Firm
If it’s not immediately clear how Search, Plus Your World might impact your practice, here are some possibilities:
Results that are influenced by people with whom I’m connected that publish “stuff” that’s relevant to what I’m searching.
Of course, the first thing you will have to do is decide whether spending time on Google Plus, or any other social network for that matter, is the right fit for you professionally.
If you answered yes, the first step is to set up your Google Plus Profile. I also recommend that you link the sites where you publish to your profile for authorship.
The web is becoming more and more organized around people and entities. Now, more than ever, displaying your expertise in your field will play a role in how people, including prospective clients, find you.
Once you’re set up, the next step is to participate. Just like with other social networks, you should be asking yourself:
Would I circle myself on Google Plus?
While how you use Google Plus is completely up to you, I suggest that you take it slow. Don’t circle back every single person that circles you. Hopefully by now we’ve learned from our experiences on Twitter. And if you insist on circling back, I recommend that you create some kind of “catch-all” circle. Keep your circles tight and relevant. Think about your circles in terms of, well, circles.
Perhaps you have a group of friends that likes to talk about The Yankees (yuck). Or maybe you want to circle people you met at a professional networking event.
As a real-world example, I have a circle for Lawyerists.
Some Thoughts on Personal Search Curating: Block
One aspect of personalized search that hasn’t been thoroughly enough addressed is the concept of filter-bubble:
And with Search, Plus Your World, filter-bubble is even a bigger concern. However, it’s been around a lot longer than Search, Plus your World, search without your world, or even the internet altogether.
It is my guess, that personal curating of search results will become much more ubiquitous. It wouldn’t surprise me if the use of search curating tools, like the block link, increases sharply:
Which, in some ways, is actually a good thing. It is a major check on people who publish online to publish good stuff. Spam the web, you risk getting blocked.
It also provides us with tools to fight back against the noise and search overload:
In fact, personalized search may prove to be the single best spam filter ever. If people that publish online have to put their name and face next to what they write, perhaps they’ll think more about what they have written before they hit the publish button.
Then again, some of the stuff you see floating around Facebook may have already proven that theory false.
More Reading on Search, Plus Your World: