“Search Plus Your World” Is Just About Google+, Not Your World

Editor’s note: Guest contributor Frederic Lardinois is a tech writer who blogs at SiliconFilter

Google announced the next iteration of its social search initiative this morning. Google Fellow Amit Singhal introduced this as “search, plus your world.” In reality, of course, this is pure hyperbole. The only source of social data Google uses to personalize its search results is Google+, which despite its success, likely doesn’t represent “your world” very well yet at this point. Indeed, unless you and your friends are very active on Google+, there’s a good chance you won’t see too many of the new personal results for the time being.

In the early days of social search on Google, the company used data from third-party service like Twitter, Facebook and others. Google let all of these deals expire in favor of fully concentrating on Google+. Google told Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan that it would would work with others if they were willing to give Google deep access to their data. The chance that Facebook, which already has a good relationship with Bing, would give Google full access to its data – and maybe even its users private data – isn’t highly unlikely.

That’s Not “My World”

For the time being then, Google’s interpretation of what “your world” looks like will remain very limited – maybe even to the point where those personal results you do see aren’t even that useful because almost all your real friends are on Facebook and Twitter instead of Google+.

Google has said that “Google+ is Google itself.” It’s becoming a central part of every single aspect of what Google does. In a way, Google is betting the company on the success of Google+. Search, then, is just a logical next step for adding Google+, but it’s also one of the best places to promote it. Google+ profiles are now prominently featured in autocomplete and the names of publishers, Google+ avatars and links to their profiles appear next to articles in your search results, for example. Google will also heavily promote the profiles of some celebrities on Google+ when you search for certain topics.

Facebook, when it announced its new timeline feature, said that its service is now about sharing “the story of your life.” Google thinks Google+ represents “your world.” It may just be semantics, but at times, it feels like these services fundamentally misunderstand our relationship with them and the people we “friend” on their platforms. Maybe it’s time for the big social networks to acknowledge that the things we share on their services just represent a small sliver of our online personas and are neither fully representative of who were are online or offline. Google saying that Google+ represents “your world” is yet another example of this.