For the past few years, one main approach Google has used in its unending quest to refine its search results has been the idea of personalization. Starting with Social Search in 2009, a concrete path was laid for developing a search experience more tailored to the individual user through the incorporation of information from social networks (specifically Google+ and any sites with public content linked to it). When this optional search tool is enabled, search results relevant to your query are drawn from content generated by your friends and acquaintances that Google has access to. The assumption here is that what your friends have to say about something you are looking for is important to you and enriches your search. This has some factual basis, especially when it comes to purchasing decisions, and Google is now pushing through improvements to this social search tool in the hope of capitalizing on this behavior.
Referred to by the tagline ‘Search, Plus Your World’ the latest features to Google social search include:
- Personal Results which display information on social networks specifically shared with you that only you can see.
- Profiles in Search that display people on social networks that are related to your search that you might share interests with or want to follow.
- People and Pages display Google+ profile pages and communities that are related to your search
Google’s official message on this emphasizes how personalized search brings forth what is important to people rather than providing them with cold, neutral content that doesn’t relate to them in some way. Realistically, this attempt can be seen as a move to enhance their ability to deliver ads in a more targeted and efficient way, harnessing the power of social networks and merging it with their control of search traffic.
One potentially negative effect of this personalized reflection of search results is the emergence of what Eli Pariser calls a ‘filter bubble’ in his TED talk on the subject.
In essence, Pariser warns that having content edited for you without your knowledge or consent can create a skewed view of the world as you experience it online. As it stands now, Google’s Social Search is a voluntary setting that can be toggled. It remains to be seen how much this type of personalization gets integrated in more seamless ways in the future.
The message to be drawn from all this is that social networks are powerful, significant entities that are changing the face of the web as we speak. Google’s involvement in harnessing social networks in personalized search results only serves to amplify this effect. Since this ongoing online revolution is so complex and ever-changing, it’s crucial for a business to have a dedicated partner to help with social media marketing campaigns. That’s where Blue Hat comes in. We’ve developed tested social media marketing packages that get results. We’ve applied them to our own business, and can get them working for yours.