Google Search plus Your World is the latest incarnation of Google’s search, and was released last week to a lukewarm reception. The new service includes Google’s Google+ search results into any query, and supposedly kept things equal for existing social networks. However, some sleuthing and tool development by the folks over at Facebook revealed that this isn’t the case, and they’ve now posted an open letter to Google asking with a bit of snark to not “be evil.”
The tool is a small bookmarklet that works in your browser and will change the way your Google results work. Instead of using the new “search plus your world”, the bookmarklet will use the old Google search results which you may remember included Facebook and Twitter in more meaningful ways than it does today. The reason this is significant is because the new SpYW Google Plus results sometimes provide Google Plus results ahead of other social networks even when Google Plus isn’t the network that has the superior results. SearchEngineLand looks at the comparison between the search for “music,” which shows that while SpYW has Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg’s Google+ profiles as the first result, the natural Google Search has their Twitter accounts.
So is it fair for Google, who’s company philosophy page includes the idea that you can make money without having to be evil, to stack the results of their search engine? Of course it is, as they own their Search product in its entirety. So while some people are criticizing them for ‘cheating,’ I would rather say they’re just making a self-destructive move by stacking the results. People trust Google search because it seems to be fairly democratic — I am literally finding the top results on the web based on a variety of factors important to most users. If that gets messed up and goes public, it can do some pretty strong damage to them, and companies like Microsoft with Bing are waiting to pick up the results with their own social search.
Although, lately Google’s search results haven’t been as strong as they once were. After companies like Demand Studios and About.com showed up on the scene, hiring thousands and thousands of cheap writers to pretty much write pedantic articles about every SEO buzzword on the web, Google’s results were flooded with low quality searches. That’s why they modified their search engine algorithm last year, which promised the return of better results. But to me, that’s on the opposite end of the spectrum as stacking — it’s looking at a bunch of specific results they didn’t want and modifying the results to ensure those results are lost. Those who would say the update had more complexities would be right, but I’d be surprised if the engineers weren’t asked to ensure that the new algorithm ensured Demand Studios and similar sites didn’t make the FP.
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