Sharing a search story

I’ve been reading a lot of the coverage of the Search plus Your World launch and I wanted to share my story and then clarify something.

I love to stay up until early in the morning playing Werewolf. In early December I went to a journalism conference called “News Foo Camp” in Phoenix and played a lot of Werewolf. When I got back, for some reason I searched for [werewolf] — maybe I was thinking about making a custom deck of werewolf cards. Because I was dogfood-testing Search plus Your World, this is what I saw:

Search for werewolf

In the top row of pictures, you’ll see a bunch of people playing werewolf, including a picture of me as the werewolf in the top-left image. Doing a generic search like [werewolf] or [photos] and getting back a picture of you or your friends is a pure, magic moment.

Let me tell you how it happened. I have Brian “Fitz” Fitzpatrick in a circle on Google+, because he’s in charge of Google’s Data Liberation Front and he’s an all-round awesome guy to boot. Fitz published an album of 25 Werewolf photos shortly after the conference. Okay, but I’m only in one of the 25 pictures; how did Google return the picture of me first? It turns out that Brian had tagged me in that single photo.

Once you know the trick, it might not seem like magic anymore. In fact, this is the “things just work” experience that everyone in the tech industry strives for. But when I searched for [werewolf] and got back a recent picture of me playing werewolf, it did seem like magic right then. I suspect as more people take Search plus Your World out for a test drive, they’ll quickly experience similar magical “Aha!” moments like I did.

I was reading some of the comments on tech blogs, and I wanted to clarify something: Search plus Your World does surface public content from the open web, not just content from Google+. For example, look back up to the top-right image from my screenshot above. That’s actually a werewolf photo that Gina Trapani took and it’s hosted on Flickr, not Google.

Here’s another example. If you follow the excellent and erudite Jennifer 8 Lee and search for [general tso’s chicken], Google can surface this high-quality thread from Quora:

Quora page

By the way, that’s a fantastic thread for Google to highlight, since Lee literally wrote the book about General Tso’s Chicken. It’s exactly the sort of “just works” user experience you’d want.

It’s not hard to find content shared on other sites. For a search [grand unified theory of snack food], Paul Buchheit shared a link on FriendFeed, and Google can highlight that:

Shared on FriendFeed

Or if I search for [connectbot], here’s a link that Brad Fitzpatrick shared on Live Journal:

LiveJournal example

(Yes, we do have both a Brian Fitzpatrick and a Brad Fitzpatrick at Google. People sometimes mix them up, but they’re different.)

I hope that helps to make my point. Search plus Your World builds on the social search that we launched in 2009, and can surface public content from sites across from the web, such as Quora, FriendFeed, LiveJournal, Twitter, and WordPress.

The team should be finishing the rollout of Search plus Your World in the next day or so, and I hope you enjoy it. Remember, to see the new results, you’ll need to be signed in with a Google account and search on google.com. Give this new feature a whirl: once you see how much better personal search can be, I don’t think you’ll want to give it up.

90 Responses to Sharing a search story (Leave a comment)

  1. That is really a good step by Google. It will help in providing better and relevant search results to the user and yes it will remove spam too.

  2. Hi Matt,

    Good Post! Search Industry is getting excited day by day and I know there will be much more interesting going to happen this year :)

  3. Matt, this is true, but a little disingenuous; you only surface author profiles from G+, despite indexing hCards via Rich Snippets from many other sites, including WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. In addition, you follow rel=”author” and rel=”me” link chains, but only surface ones that pass through G+ profiles.

    The comments from Amit Singhal to Danny Sullivan about G+ being deeply accessible also ring false for anyone other than Google to index, as G+ only permits 1000 queries a day to access G+ data APIs, 3 orders of magnitude lower than other Google API services.

    Social Search as originally built was based on open web standards and crawling the whole of the web that adopted them; Search Plus Your World seems parochial in comparison.

  4. I am going to be negative about it.

    I simply don’t want all that clutter on my search pages. One of the better things about Google was the clean search results, and frankly, the lack of distracting colour in the results.

    Now I am getting little coloured thumbnails of “friends” popping up all over the place and it looks as if it will get — in my opinion — worse.

    I wouldn’t actually mind, as I can just log-out of my google account and they all vanish, but here is the key problem. We have been indoctrinated over the past few years to switch onto google services, and merge old services into a single google account.

    It is very difficult for anyone but the most hardened refusnick to do a search on Google and not be logged in to their account.

    I practically live in Google Reader – to log out each time I want to do a websearch is a right pain in the proverbial.

    In essence, I really hope Google offers a “plain search” option for those of us who use Google search as a tool and frankly couldn’t care less what our friends think of random webpages.

  5. Bob

    @IanVisits,

    You *can* turn off personal results. In search settings, there is an option to toggle personal results.

  6. Gotta admit…I don’t get it. What is the story in the example search story? It seems to be that a bunch of stuff moderately related to the GOP nomination campaign is quickly available through Google.

  7. Tim

    Hi IanVisits – just wanted to reply to say I love your blog! Also, in this release of search, there is a simple button in the top right which will enable you to toggle between personal results, and global.

    I think there will also be the option to be logged in and disable this feature entirely if it is not for you.

    I am going to give it a try for a few weeks and see if it enhances my search experience, but as I am on Google all day for work purposes, I’m not sure if personal results are going to get in my way or not.

  8. IanVisits, you can certainly turn this off if you want. Go to https://www.google.com/preferences?hl=en and look for the part that says “Personal results” to turn it off. But I hope that you’d take it for a spin before you dismiss it — I regularly run across really interesting things with this new feature.

  9. Thanks Bob.

    Ideally, that would have been a pop-up message when introduced. But at least it exists.

  10. I perfectly agree with IanVisits. In my opinion, the search engine results are too cluttered now. Am personally signing in and out of my Google account all the time haha and am sure most are and will be doing same. If I want the opinion of friends, I will ask them directly and will not rely on Google for that anyway.

    Guess it’s the perfect timing for a new simpler search engine to make it’s mark.

  11. Perhaps you could explain why a brand search for major publisher circles users back into Google+ from the core SERPs http://www.google.com/search?q=daily+mail – In particular for the content they are trying to reach.

    I fear publishers are going to be forced to use G+ with a damned if we do and damned if we don’t parasitic play by G. Good for users? Good for Google.

  12. Hi Matt,

    This is another massive turn off for me.
    When I search, I am generally looking for facts – the last thing I need is to see even more results that I am never going to use.

    Quite frankly, what use is “I searched for [werewolf] and got back a recent picture of me playing werewolf”?

    Are you trying to turn your search engine into a social network?

  13. Well, I have to agree it sounds like a bunch of garbage in the search results. If I am looking for something, I am probably not wanting to find the social network flotsam in search results. Have you seen the amount of spam on Twitter or the amount of non-sense in Facebook newsfeeds?

    Further Matt, I am really unsure if this is a good way to go from a quality perspective. I don’t tend to like everything my friends are throwing into my newsfeed. I often dislike this stuff and my comments tend to reflect that. When I search Google I want relevant and real results for the search term. I probably could care less what my friend Bob thinks. This belief by Google that having a huge marketing budget somehow translates into being the most competent company for the job is utterly ridiculous.

    Do you guys think Twitter is going to sue you over this? Do you think doing this sort of thing may get more people, Facebook and Twitter included to move closer to your only real competitor Bing?

  14. Usual sort of question but are there any timelines on rollouts beyond .com into .co.uk for example?

  15. Blake Ross

    Hey Matt –

    The giant box that appears in the right column for popular queries like “shopping”, “games”, “photos”, or “twitter” only includes content from Google+ and not from the open web, right?

  16. How careful you are. And you’re still curiosity about what is known already.

  17. Search plus is a great improvement to google, but not for the users.

    I think Google is not focusing on the real motivations from the users to make a search.

    Thinking of the werewolf case explained by Matt. Did I really want to display my own images if I type “werewolf”? I think “werewolf” search is informative general approach research to this term, so why thinks google im interested in watching my own pictures?

    What is the real path a real user makes to search his own pictures? Searching them at google? That makes no sense for me. I will search my own pictures in my computer first, and then ask my friends to send me some funny pics we took last year.

    So the real problem is this feature is not user focused and I think it will be annoying for the majority of the users.

  18. David

    I’m with Sandra on this.

    That sort of thing is very impressive and twee and all that, but of no use to me whatsoever.

    If I’m searching for something, it’s because I don’t know how else to find it – it’s outside my Circle – there’s no benefit in presenting results I could already get myself.

  19. It all feels rather intrusive. Claustrophobic, even.

    If I’m in Google, I want to find something new.

  20. Shashikant Khandelwal

    Personalization, clearly, is in the near future for search.

    Matt, I would love to see facebook data also integrated though. I’ve been working on personalization problems in the shopping domain, and in my experience, there’s lot of signal that one can get from that data.

    I hope both google and facebook work together on identities which can both be connected together and exported out if the user so desires, to any other service leveraging it to improve its experience.

  21. I’m a fan of personalised search, as long as Google treats all social networks and services equally, or at least based on which ones the individual user prefers. I guess this is partly down to the other social networks…

  22. Interesting post. I’m off to get my friends to play werewolf and flesh out their google+ profiles. I want a magic moment! thanks!

  23. Hi Matt,

    I have personally tested this with a fellow worker and we both got very different yet relevant information – not just data.

    We noticed how we received results influenced by social media depicting a friends perspective of the web and I believe this will eventually improve the quality of social media activities.

    Cool….

  24. Hi Matt,

    I can understand why you and some other people would get excited about this, but let’s not lose site that Google’s business model is advertising. As a result we all know this is just another attempt to get people to sign in so that they can be identified and so given targetted ads by adding in a “cute feature” that shows “personal results”. For my own part I don’t want ads just for me especially as they’re so useless – they’re always way off target when I allow them so I don’t any more and I tend to stay signed out.

    My profile. I don’t really use anything Google services except for search and occasionally I will use Maps to find somewhere. Like 99% of people I guess.

    As IanVisits has pointed out, I started using Google search all those years ago because of the clean page and the fast results. The unobtrusive ads appeared and I thought “Well done guys. Good idea, I hope you succeed.”

    Things change. Times change.

    The last two years I’ve seen Google search go to hell in two ways.

    #1 – Poor quality results and getting worse.
    #2 – Clutter.

    On that first point it seems that with every new change to the algorithm I lose sites I would have expected to find and see sites that just make me screw my face up in puzzlement and say WTH? I’ve seen this reported by other people too so it’s not just me. In fact I’ve gradually started to use Yahoo and Bing as I seem to get better results – the results I used to get if I were using Google in fact, which I find amusing. The downside to using both of those is the sites are a mess – way too much going on. (But I’ll put up with that if Google gets much worse.)

    Which leads me onto the increasing amount of clutter when using Google search, it’s just an aggravating annoyance now. Maps, places, pop-up snapshots of sites when I accidentally move my mouse over them. It’s all unnecessary nonsense that I’m not interested in. My friends all complain about the same thing. “Google’s bloody useless now” is a common phrase down the pub.

    And now Google’s introducing even more junk. Personalised search based on who I am and being logged in. What use is that other than yet another distraction? “Ooh look, something I already know about!” Not cool.

    Fine. If that’s what you want to do, then that’s your decision – your engine. But can I suggest you turn things OFF by default and allow people to turn them on only if they want them?

    As has been mentioned previously, I now do most things when not signed in as I see no benefit in being tagged and identified so that I see even more clutter (plus the mis-targetted and inappropriate ads and search) – it’s all moving a LONG way away from anything like a good user experience.

    How about an option that says “Plain text only – no suggestions, no maps, no places, no clutter” (like the good old days) – I’d turn that on and stay signed in to use it and I’m sure millions of other people would too. That way Google would get to track peoples usage and us plain searchers wouldn’t have to resort to addons like AdBlock Plus to de-clutter the results.

    What I’m saying here is I don’t want personalised anything any more. Enough’s enough.

    You’re going to lose me and a lot of people just like me. I’m the tip of your looming iceberg.

    -Frank Haywood

  25. Dan

    Thanks for clarifying what “Search plus Your World” actually is. After reading several hundred tweets yesterday, it seemed people were in an uproar about it. After reading your post, and a few others at some SE authority blogs, it looks like an excellent addition, one that actually makes sense too (go figure!)

  26. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for a good article. This helps setting the buzz around social search in a more user experience perspective – more down to earth if you will. It had somehow escaped my mind that the social search algorithm focusses on more than just Google+ interaction, so thanks for clearing that up.

    In regards to Sandras comment, would it be correct to assume that it is possible to which to a -somewhat – not social search? i.e. the way Google search works to day.

  27. Geoff

    I have to say that this continues to take things one step further in the wrong direction, which really got rolling with personalized search.

    These types of advancements take objectivity away from searchers and limit them from the wealth of information available by reducing results to things they have already searched for or visited and now pairing them with social cues from people they likely already know.

    Where is the exploration in that? Where is the access to new and different information and ideas that aren’t already on our radar? I mean, the whole concept of StumbleUpon is predicated on the ability of getting something new-to-you every time you click the button… and that’s why people love it.

    By your own admission, Matt, when you searched for “werewolf,” it was with the intention of finding a way to build your own custom deck. Well… did you ever find that? It sounds like your aha moment was finding yourself there. To me, that’s nice and all and I can see where that would be a pleasant surprise. In the end, though, it still didn’t get you to where you trying to go in the first place, because you were delivered information from a smaller circle than you were trying to search. Sounds like more of a distraction then a benefit; and it doesn’t trust a searcher’s ability to discern what he or she is looking for from a more objective list of results.

    It is, in effect, making the web smaller, not making a searcher’s access to information greater.

  28. Mark

    Matt –

    How does this differ from the actions you and several other Google engineers took last year when Facebook incorporated more shared social signals on its feed, in an opt-out fashion?

    If I recall, in April 2010, there was a day when yourself and many others in the tech world all closed your Facebook accounts in protest of your privacy being compromised.

    Why and how is this different?

  29. I get the drive for returning results that meet the fundamental principle of providing the best experience for the searcher. However, somehow the problem of knowing the capacity of the search must come into play.

    If you are at work researching werewolth, then you want more factual items. If you are at home, have just visited Facebook (or similar), then a personal tagged photo is probably on the money.

    Tricky one.

    Simon

  30. Won’t this make the world smaller rather than larger? Showing a preference for what you’re already familiar with closes the door (at least not completely in this case) to new things.

    I can understand that Google wants to move to a more social paradigm, but there is still a need for a pure search engine that finds relevant information without running it through my search history or personal filters.

    If I search for “werewolf” I should see results that relate to that term. The game (or products with that name) should be far below the results for mythological creatures. I should search for “werewolf game” if I want results on the game itself.

    And for your example on the “general tso’s chicken” I shouldn’t have to be connected to Jennifer 8 Lee to see her post high in the results if it is as definitive as you say. It should be high in the general results.

    I think that Google should stick to refining the general search to provide the most relevant information for the keywords I search for. Providing a social search is nice but not important. It should be an option rather than the default.

  31. Hi Matt,

    I have a question. Would it be possible for you to give an idea of the number of search queries on Google that come directly from the Google.com home page? And of those searches, what percentage of those are from users logged into their account?

    If you have that info – or if you can point me to a resource that does I’d appreciate it :)

    MJ

  32. Wow, I seriously need to buy som ad-words for ‘warewolf’ – No sponsored results!! :-)

    Very nice post! I like the fact that you can turn it off if you like, but generally, I have to agree with IanVisits on this one, I don’t go to a search engine to find posts/pictures etc. of myself. I have to assume that the fact that you got tagged in the picture by someone in your circle, whould somehow show up when on Google+ and thus, is not relevant when doing a search on Google? I doubt that Google showing social activites of the searcher when you are doing a personal search, is the genuine interest of a Google Search user and might actually limit your search results to your social activities (if these are voluminous enough) – and thereby give you a bad experience with searching to get a fact or info?

  33. This is really getting creepy. I don’t WANT to see myself or my friends in a google search unless there’s actually a compelling reason for us to be there (e.g. if my friend happens to actually be the world expert on widgets and I do a search for widgets). This is gimmicky and it’s not true to what originally made Google great– it’s reactionary, you guys are letting Twitter and Facebook dictate to you like you’re their secretary. It looks extremely bad. We’re going toward a situation where people will not want to run Google search results when someone can look over their shoulder (what if you don’t WANT your boss to know there are pictures of you playing Werewolf on the internet?). Google searches will be preceded by glances to make sure nobody’s in range.

    It’s very difficult to make criticism of Google into “constructive criticism” because the original product was already so perfect. What Google Search needs to do is so simple: just remain a simple, non-cluttered, useful search engine! Improvements should come in the form of fighting spammers and blackhat SEOs and making results more relevant.

  34. Hello,

    I want to support others who are less than thrilled with this idea. I don’t need Google to “Search my world.” I need Google to add to my world, and that means clean, relevant search results – nothing more.

    I’ve been boycotting Facebook for some years now. Why? Because I am disgusted with its tactless intrusion into my private life. Google has always been awesome. But I don’t like this Facebooky trends I see.

    I read that programmer’s “mis-shared” post about how Google is missing the point. I think he is dead wrong. There is that pink glittery FB, with apps and apps and games and bs. But I am on G+, instead, because it’s clean design, intuitive interface, and lots of things that are absent from there and I love it. If Google will follow FB, I, personally, will have to leave Google. For ya.ru, say.

  35. I agree totally with Daniel on this. The reason I haven’t signed up to Google+, and the reason I haven’t encouraged others to do likewise, is the idea of sharing information that should be kept private. I’m very reluctantly on Facebook (mostly because I have to help administer client FB pages), and I refuse to own any other “social media” account. I don’t sign up for any of the apps (I’m not sharing information with application providers when I can use the applications for free without having to do so) and I don’t do anything else with it. In other words, I use it because I have to, not because I want to. There are quite a few people in the same boat.

    After seeing this, I’m glad I haven’t.signed up for Google+. The last thing I’d want to see when doing a query that doesn’t involve my friends is a collection of pictures of my friends. If I want pictures of my friends, I’ll organize them in a photo album myself and look at them. At least make something like that opt-in rather than opt-out (yes, I saw where there was an option to opt out, but that’s really not good enough here…at least with Facebook you can opt in to most things).

    Like the one guy said, you’re letting the two houses of cards that are Twit and Facebook dictate to you. They’re both bleeding money, so why would you do what the losers do? Let them be the flavor of the month and die out along with all the rest of the “social media” in a few years…and they will, because they’re primarily propped up by “social media optimizers” and “community managers” (translation: a bunch of useless idiots who spend all day on company dimes talking to other equally useless idiots on social media sites and toss buzzwords around in an effort to make themselves sound marginally intelligent).

  36. Steven Lockey

    >I agree totally with Daniel on this. The reason I haven’t signed up to Google+, and the >reason I haven’t encouraged others to do likewise, is the idea of sharing information that >should be kept private.

    Have you looked at the privacy settings in Google+? Its far better than FB in that it allows you to only share things with the people you WANT to share them with instead of with everyone.

    >After seeing this, I’m glad I haven’t.signed up for Google+. The last thing I’d want to see >when doing a query that doesn’t involve my friends is a collection of pictures of my >friends. If I want pictures of my friends, I’ll organize them in a photo album myself and
    >look at them

    So you’d rather spend hours searching through your friends accounts for the images, instead of letting Google do it for you? Really? Honestly? Its no different and the images are hardly ‘unrelated’ since the was search for ‘werewolf’ and got a pic of him playing werewolf…. how is that not relevant????? Remember it will only include pics your friends have shared with YOU.

    >At least make something like that opt-in rather than opt-out (yes, I saw where there was >an option to opt out, but that’s really not good enough here…at least with Facebook you >can opt in to most things).

    Exactly the opposite in fact, most parts of FB are ‘opt out’ not opt in. I get shed loads of spam on FB I’ve never ‘opt’ed in’ for, particually the crappy game apps….. Much rather see relevant search results!

    >Like the one guy said, you’re letting the two houses of cards that are Twit and Facebook >dictate to you.

    Strange how FB and Twitter are moaning that Google won’t let it dicate to them then isn’t it ;)

  37. I really like this idea and think it’s a great step by Google. Surely it can only help with making your search results more tailored to what you were looking for? I guess time will tell how useful this is and whether it clogs up our searches too much. Thanks for the run through of it though, much more informative than just the original video release.

  38. Vasu Adiga

    I also see results from Google Reader subscriptions. I get it…now Google Search is only as good as your social circle / whom you are following.

  39. This was a really good idea from Google and also i think all the hubbub that twitter is making about this is unfounded for reasons outlined in the post.

  40. “Search plus Your World does surface public content from the open web, not just content from Google+”

    I wasn’t aware that people were confused about this. If they were, glad it’s clarified. I know I never wrote that content from the open web couldn’t be found with the new system. That would have been crazy.

    The real issues that have come up are two. First, private & limited shared content on Flickr will NOT appear in your results, correct. If Gina had shared that photo with only you, SPYW (can we call Search Plus your World that?) could not have located that. But if Gina had shared that photo with you on Google+, it would.

    That’s because Google effectively has a deal with Google+ to search through Google+ content in this manner. It doesn’t have a deal with any third-party companies to do the same thing, so they’re out of luck. And they’re out of luck in part because some of them wouldn’t agree to a deal even if you asked. But so far, it doesn’t appear that Google has asked about this (Eric Schmidt wouldn’t say), nor did Google post any type of API or news that it was going to try and push for this type of inclusion as part of the launch announcement (unlike some other efforts, say Open Social, where the door would immediately have been swung open to include further partners).

    That all really the secondary issue, however. The real issue, at least as I see it, is the Google+ suggestions. Do searches, and Google will suggest some celebrities or other notable people you should follow on Google+ right from Google itself.

    It won’t suggest anyone you should follow like that on Facebook. It won’t for Twitter, either. The argument seems to be that you don’t have the data. It feels like you do. But again, it also feels like you haven’t even tried to think about including the other social networks. No door was swung open as part of the launch announcement. It’s been instead mainly a “of course we’d consider” type of thing when you’ve been asked.

  41. Dear Matt

    First let me say I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and have some to vale your experience, insight, and outspokenness. That said, I really am having a hard time with certain aspects of this.

    We all know that when we go through pics from a vacation we only care about seeing ourselves. Lame but true. So yea, there is an inherent “wow, cool!” moment when you search the mighty Google and YOU pop up.

    However as one who deals a good bit in SEO for clients professionally I am seeing some red flags here. Now we have one more thing to explain to our clients – the difference between paid results, organic results, maps and places was more than enough, but now I get to say “well, no … those are your “personal” results … “. Maybe not a huge deal at first but I do see other implications as well.

    For instance the overwhelming feeling that new businesses who want to offer services to people who would be interested have to rely more and more on social factors than good web authoring and other SEO factors. I am against (so to speak) social platforms as a primary indicator of worth for natural rankings (besides the fact they can be gamed like anything else) for the same reason Steve Jobs didn’t support flash. You shouldn’t have to rely on the service of a third party to use the open web.

    You say let’s stop censorship – win. And yet Google is … let’s call it filtering … results more than ever.

    I understand the dilemas and admire the strides that have been made. But recently I’m afraid Google has taken a step or two back.

    Keep up the good work. I have faith it will work out eventually.

  42. Tim Mason

    Ok – I don’t understand all the concern over this feature.

    If you aren’t logged into your Google account, then you don’t get the social results – you get the regular Google results.
    If you are logged into your Google account, you have the option of turning the feature on or off, either for a particular search (choice is upper right on the results page) or for all searches (in the ‘Search Settings’ page).

    [And no, I don't have any affiliation at all with Google, apart from being a user of their products.]

  43. Most people would like ‘opt-in’ to new features, not be forced to ‘opt-out’. It’s a matter of control.

    Also, for those of us who do not work for Google, Twitter or Facebook, it’s obvious that all three companies are doing their best to be #1. Google seems to be getting more bad press than the others because there is no way to ‘opt-out’, as in, not use your invasive new service. Twitter and Facebook seem more like a ‘choice’, whereas Google seems to delight in forcing its awkward ‘Social’ attempts on its traditional ‘Search’ customers.

    Google Docs is a good example: Provide a service that people need. Google Buzz is another great example: listen to your users.

  44. Rex Rollman

    Matt,

    This is creepy.

    Matt, could you ask someone from your company to create an “oldgoogle.com” domain, where I can search via Google without all the stuff you guys have added in the last few years? Because each change you have made recently is just taking me away from what I liked about Google initially: search simplicity without gimmicks.

  45. I love the idea of ‘it just works.’ I get that our search history and Google+ network gives Google insight into what might be on my mind. It’s the same concept as using my email content to serve me personalized advertisements, right? Okay, that example creeps a lot of people out. The real problem, however, is that I do not want Google to figure me out. I actually find it offensive. And those GMail ads? Google gets far more wrong than right.

    I am not normal. I am one of the 8.9% with a graduate education. I am an Internet savvy marketer. I’ve lived in a foreign country. I prefer 80s alternative and industrial music. Google’s goal is to understand all of this and serve me accordingly. Except the way I want to be served, is with clean, non-individualized search results. I enjoy the hunt and the chase. I do like it when search engines give me a useful result on the first try, but if they do not then I get to use my brain to think of a query that will work. I enjoy that. I enjoy it immensely.

    It just works personalized search is like getting into a car that asks you where you are headed, securely straps you in, then takes you on your way. Some people would call that convenient or even luxurious. I call it boring. I want my hand on the wheel and my foot on the accelerator.

    I guess you could say that the best personalized and it just works experience for myself is to clear out and turn-off the personalization just like I can with search history. Let me define my own environment within Google Search.

  46. Franco Zapatero

    A lot of people don´t get the feature, I think this is the first step of something bigger: the automatization of search. Someday you´ll be able to tell G+ that you´re going to NY next week and it will gather relevant information for you (places your friends visited, pictures, weather conditions, or even reserve your flight). Personalization of the web they call it. I guess some of you will hate that world, but for most people this will be a great tool to navigate a world of information overflow.

    besides, Google is giving these people the option to opt-out the service, I really don´t understand the complaints.

  47. I welcome this feature…especially if it convinces Facebook to do be more consistent about how and with whom our private data is shared.

  48. Pawel

    Matt, my preferences page doesn’t have an option for personal results. How do I switch it on?

  49. Danny, Google/YouTube/Picasa/Google+ is a for-profit business. So is Facebook, So is Flickr/Yahoo and so is Twitter. In fact, if you look at the Alexa Top Ten Sites world-wide – the places where we actually spend our time and dollars (and RenMinBi) on line – only *one* destination – Wikipedia – is a non-profit.

    That means that *every* data-sharing initiative between any two entities is done with a full assessment of the projected *revenues* from the arrangement, the expected *costs* of implementing it, the impact of myriad international regulations on privacy, and in many cases even political considerations. Virtually no deal happens between two entities of this size without a closed, signed win-win contract.

    So if there are doors to be “swung open” between Facebook, Google and Twitter, I don’t see it happening without lengthy detailed negotiations resulting in win-win deals. Unless, of course, you think that Congress and the administration and the courts will somehow declare these businesses to be public utilities in the same sense as the telecom carriers are and *force* them to inter-operate. I don’t think Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Dorsey would sit idly by for even hints of that.

  50. They could have taken out the results from twitter, facebook too. But they are using G+ and it is their product so let them use it. There should be no arguments about this. Google+ and the World.

  51. originalgeek

    One of the great things about using Google search sans the new + hooks is it allows me to circumvent the groupthink of my circle of friends, and thereby enables me to truly engage my critical thinking, and also to see things that would remain hidden outside the groupthink curtain. I guess I will just not be getting a Google+ page because I value the ability of the internet to open me up and expose me to the unexpected more than I value seeing what my friends think. Bottom line, if I want to know what they think, I ask them. In person, via a phone call, email, or Facebook. But not via Google+ because to do so would remove a valuable research tool.

  52. Christopher K Davis

    Here’s a concrete example of how the social results can be helpful & serendipitous rather than clutter:

    I wanted to check on some info for a convention coming up in Boston this weekend. I searched for “Arisia”, and got the convention’s website (useful) and also a post to a friend’s blog mentioning that he’d be there for a book signing (even more useful, since I hadn’t known he was going to be in town).

  53. Now maybe “friends” you don’t even know won’t be arbitrarily added to your personal accounts. I rarely add anyone to any personal pages. I wouldn’t even have a Facebook page if they didn’t make everything so automatic on autopilot.

    Solution: Keep your G+ World relevant if you don’t want clutter.

  54. Armin

    @Danny Sullivan

    How would google be able to establish “real” celebrities from their fake counterparts? Wouldn’t some kind of deal have to be in place between FB or Twitter and Google?

    Or can Google’s algorithm be able to tell real and fake profiles apart?

  55. Disillusioned

    Matt,

    I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. This is not about improving search. This is about promoting Google+ to everyone who uses Google to search the web.

    When I’m logged in to Google and search for “games” on the very top I see “130 personal results. This is a limited preview. Upgrade to Google+”

    When I logout of Google and search for “games” on the right side it says “People and Pages on Google+ related to games”
    “Learn how you could appear here too”

    I’m looking forward to seeing the statistics for the increase in new Google+ signups after Search Plus your World is introduced.

    Google in 2011 changed from a company which represented everything good to just another greedy company, apparently 2012 will be more of the same. That’s a shame.

    I bought a Google Nexus S in January 2011, the primary reason was because Google was cool and a “pure” Google phone was even cooler. I gave the phone away for free in April. The new “Larry Page Google” just leaves an bad taste in my mouth.

  56. Donald

    I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. This is not about improving search. This is about promoting Google+ to everyone who uses Google to search the web.

    When I’m logged in to Google and search for “games” on the very top I see “130 personal results. This is a limited preview. Upgrade to Google+”

    When I logout of Google and search for “games” on the right side it says “People and Pages on Google+ related to games”
    “Learn how you could appear here too”

    I’m looking forward to seeing the statistics for the increase in new Google+ signups after Search Plus your World is introduced.

    Google in 2011 changed from a company which represented everything good to just another greedy company, apparently 2012 will be more of the same. That’s a shame.

    I bought a Google Nexus S in January 2011, the primary reason was because Google was cool and a “pure” Google phone was even cooler. I gave the phone away for free in April. The new “Larry Page Google” just leaves an bad taste in my mouth.

  57. Tom

    This is hilarious. When I search for werewolf or anything for that matter I am not looking for photos of myself or my friends…. ever. What a waste of space where I could find a real relevant result. And a search for cars going to Google+ Ferrari’s page with no way to opt-out? So you think it is more relevant to show Google’s Ferrari page vs Ferrari’s website? That is amazing.

    What are you guys thinking?

  58. Neil Patmore

    I don’t get it – If I want to know what my friends are up to I’ll use Facebook and if I want to find a site on the internet I’ll use Google?? Let’s be honest, Google doesn’t ‘do’ social like Facebook does, so why is it being force fed to me on a plate? Isn’t this a bit like the whole Microsoft Vs Netscape scenario of the 90′s??

  59. At least we can turn this daft thing off if we want to! I often get better search results when I turn off the personalisation and choose USA or global results.

  60. Armin, go look at Britney Spears on Google+. She’s a verified account. And a verified account that lists her Twitter and Facebook profiles. So Google knows, verified knows, about those other accounts. It would be incredibly easy for it to list those in addition to her Google+ one. If Google wanted.

  61. Franco Zapatero

    Tom, are you deciding what´s relevant for me? YOU are hilarious

  62. Hey Matt, this sounds interesting. I am going to take it for a ‘spin’, test drive it, and then (of course) share some thoughts.

    Late

    Joe

  63. I just love this Google New Update.It shows search results based on Google+ and may be this will save our some time on surfing.This feature will more helpful in searching any particular location etc.And this will also help in giving the exact result according to our Google+ circles.We can later turn off this feature too if you don’t want to show personalized social search.Thnxx Google for this Awesome New feature :)

  64. So you’d rather spend hours searching through your friends accounts for the images, instead of letting Google do it for you? Really? Honestly? Its no different and the images are hardly ‘unrelated’ since the was search for ‘werewolf’ and got a pic of him playing werewolf…. how is that not relevant????? Remember it will only include pics your friends have shared with YOU.

    That’s not what I said. What I said is that I’d rather build a photo album myself. That means that I’d create an image gallery with a search and do it that way. So the “hours searching” would really be seconds, maybe minutes, and I’d have full control over the output.

    Besides, Google already has a way to deal with people searching for images. It’s called “Image Search”. Leave it there if you have to leave it somewhere at all.

    Exactly the opposite in fact, most parts of FB are ‘opt out’ not opt in. I get shed loads of spam on FB I’ve never ‘opt’ed in’ for, particually the crappy game apps….. Much rather see relevant search results!

    Then you’ve probably done something wrong somewhere…I’ve never signed up for any of those apps and I don’t get any of that spam. As much as I hate Facebook, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like that.

    Have you looked at the privacy settings in Google+? Its far better than FB in that it allows you to only share things with the people you WANT to share them with instead of with everyone.

    Again, I only sign up for things if there’s a benefit to me. There is absolutely no benefit whatsoever for me personally as far as using Google+ goes. And again, I don’t want to even run the risk of having an image show up in search that I intended for private viewing. Of course, I’m not stupid enough to put things on any social network like that, but others might be more naive that way.

  65. It is too early for me to comment. Yet in my personal experience my feeling is that, the world of “Social” is forcing “Google” to take steps, which is clearly downgrading the User Experience. The biggest moment of success for opponents is to make the other commit mistakes. To me, Google is just stumbling because of the “Social Impact”. Google you are the world’s best Search Engine & Your Strength has been providing relevant results and a wonderful user experience. As i said earlier, the examples shared here were generic terms & let me try my experience with some other words and share the next set of feedback.

  66. rob

    Matt, I see how search + your world can be useful. I think what most people are concerned about is that Google is slowly abandoning what we have grown to love about Google : unadulterated information. The more Google relies on social signals as part of their ranking algorithms the more Google relies on the opinion of others. This is an alarming thought.

  67. That is a beautiful story.

    However, Matt, I don’t want my normal searches to return stuff from my social platforms. I visit my social platforms to engage in my social circles. And I go to Google when I want a straight up search.

    Incorporating “social signals” into SERPs is a good idea, but incorporating “social” or Google + directly into the SERPs I say is a very bad idea.

    Just my 2 cent.

  68. Sometimes, I do miss Search Engines WEB.

  69. Am I the only one that doesn’t find this marvelous at all? What if somebody doesn’t want to have his photo showing up in Google’s search results? I am getting increasingly concerned how Google collects data and displays data about all of us. What happened to our privacy???

  70. Neil Patmore

    I find the whole concept of social search romantic. The whole ethos of bringing the offline world online is all well and good, but if Google is ‘really’ in the business of giving people what they want, then social search utilising Twitter and Facebook data is the only real solution. Most people who use social media either don’t know about, or don’t understand Google+, and of those that do, only a very small proportion actually give a damn.

  71. The real question is what was the intent of your search for “werewolf”? Possibly to make a custom deck, but almost certainly not to see a picture of yourself. It might be kind of cool, but it is not making the search results better or more relevant.

    I saw this myself last night when Plus Your World went live for me. My results were inundated with posts I made or shared, and random social shares from people whose volume I have turned off in Google+. I already know what I’ve said. I already know what I’ve shared, or what people have shared with me. I don’t need Google to find that for me.

    The end result was that my SERPs were filled with tons of irrelevant things. The worst of it was that the more knowledgeable I am in a subject, the more junk I got in the SERPs, because those are things that I’ve posted about or had conversations about.

    Ultimately from the view of “do the results answer my search query?” my Google results have grown magnificently worse overnight : (

  72. I’m so sorry Matt

    I’m just not seeing myself getting behind all of this.

    Don’t get me wrong .. I love Google .. um .. as a search engine.
    I guess I’m sort of old fashioned in the sense that I still look at social networks as social networks and search engines as search engines ..

    If I want to learn something I don’t already know .. I’ll go to Google.
    If I want to keep up-to-date on Aunt Sally’s Sad Sacks, I’ll go to Twitter or Facebook.

    I know you guys are trying to do your best here, and for that, I’ll applaud your good effort .. but guys like me can only take so much of this kind of redundancy.

  73. Dan Thies

    Matt, you’re better than the predatory bastards you’re working for. It’s not too late to get out. Just a thought.

  74. G

    Anything that takes away from natural SERPS will be opposed whether it is of benefit or not by the CROWD

    I miss twitter in results it used to show me where to get a free sopcast football link :)
    Hopefully google + will fulfill the role

  75. Darrell

    Hi Matt

    I can’t believe what a bunch of BS you and Google are trying to roll out these days. What happened to simplicity and true organic search results? Now, you and your team are rolling out Search Plus Your World – pardon me while I gag for a moment. The only reason you and G are doing this is for profit. This doesn’t even come close to offering a better user experience. This is simply a way for Larry and Serge to make even more billions of dollars. When is it enough? Answer – it can never be enough for your share holders. This new way of search is so stupid its not even funny anymore.

    I log out each and every time from my Gmail account when I do real organic searches. The problem I have nowadays using your so called improved search results, I have to actually scroll down the page even more now, than I did even last year because you have so many ads taking the tops search results.

    I used to believe, albeit in a naive manner many years ago before I understood SEO, that you had my best interest when it came to search. That is simply no longer the case no matter what try and pretend. I used to think the slogan by Eric – Do no evil – what a pile of garbage. Do you really even believe your own corporate speak any more or anything else coming from the executive management team?

    I really enjoyed reading the latest posts from Danny Sullivan and Aaron Wall – especially the one when Google was caught red handed in a sting operation over in Kenya. Ya, the corporate guys sure distanced themselves quickly and somehow were blind to what was going on. Seriously, you don’t actually think people are believing your corporate speak anymore – do you? I certainly don’t.

    I personally, will be very happy when the US federal Government finally gets enough courage and back bone to make each and everyone of you accountable. I’m talking under oath and having to explain yourself and your business activities. If any of us tried to do what Google did, we would be in jail.

    Sorry for the rant, but seriously you guys have screwed up basic organic search so bad its pathetic because I have to weed my way through all the stupid ads. It used to be 2 or 3 ads on the top and side and was easily distinguishable. Not any more. Nope, now you have ads, then search results by Google that are also ads. The true organic number 1 position is now like the old position 5 on the page. I get companies have to make money, but this is simply going beyond even anything resembling common sense.

  76. Mark Allan

    Google results were slightly more relevant than Bing. Now Bing results are much more relevant than Google. Simples. (Unless you really want cute but entirely irrelevant pictures of yourself polluting your Werewolf search …)

  77. I would want Google to be what it is good at…. a search engine. I know there are pressures to open in to other areas, and maybe add those as additional services, but to blend them just gets so messy and makes people want to look elsewhere.

  78. Awesome: goggle is gonna be like 9gag for logged users with attention deficit disorder.

  79. Gerard Wilson

    Hmmm. I think I can smell astroturf.

  80. Hi Matt,
    The natural SERPS is what has allowed Google to grow in the past and if maintained with integrity will allow it to continue to grow in the future. No matter how many patents Google possesses to limit others from using similar technology in the search industry it won’t stop the public from finding somebody they feel serves them better.

    Hopefully Google’s paid ads won’t crowd out the organic results any further than its already doing. I’ve been working in the SEO field long before Google showed up and hopefully I will be able to continue to work in the SEO field for many years to come. But I guess that depends on Google and what it does in the future.

  81. Does this mean that if I tag a person who’s not in my circles, that individual will still see my tagged photos as suggested results? Or does it only work that way for people who are in each others circles.

  82. Cool werewolf scenario Matt,

    I use the search engines for learning and research. I have Google Plus for the social mixture of news, circles and related information. I really don’t care to see folks that are connected to me in some way in my results. It becomes noise and is not a pure/organic result for a search engine.

    I keep my Google plus, Gmail, Twitter and Facebook on Chrome and I do my research and searching on Firefox. I avoid the clutter which is not a big deal, that comes with being “all in” with Google. I really care more about “stuff” outside my circle when I am searching.

  83. Emily

    I just wanted to tell you thank you for standing up against censorship. It is not until they come for you that most people suddenly feel the need to fight back. Please read my poem below. In support of Liberty, Ron Paul 2012

    “First they came for the ████,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a ████.
    Then they came for the ████ ████,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a ████ ████.

    Then they came for the ████,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a ████.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

  84. Nice! I am sure it must have been a surprise for you. Plus, I think the search industry is getting really interesting day-by-day with more efforts on giving a ‘personal’ experience to the users.

  85. Your poem Emily??? It is a translation of the famous poem by the German pastor Martin Niemöller, just blackening some parts out doesn’t make it yours! See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came%E2%80%A6

  86. Hi Matt!

    i have seen some screenshots from the future of Google search combined with Google+, YouTube, Google Shopping etc.. I think this is bad! If Google is going to combine all these informatie into google search engine very soon a new searchengine will rise without the extra information. People want a clean search engine without movies, products etc.. Ain’t you afraid this is going to happen?

  87. anonymous

    This is absolutely terrible!

    Now when I do a search, the results are cluttered with junk! It says this was shared by this guy, that guy, and also things I shared. These things are NOT RELEVANT! I want google search back the way it was. I don’t care what people share or what I shared, I just want real RELEVANT results!

    Don’t fix what ain’t broke!

  88. Google is such a huge corporation and is always looking to give the best of the best to its visitors, But in my experience changes are not always good.

  89. This is a cool feature for Google picture tagging. I don’t really know this at first but when I read your article it help me to understand the importance of tagging picture in Google +.

  90. i have seen some screenshots from the future of Google search combined with Google+, YouTube, Google Shopping etc.. I think this is bad! If Google is going to combine all these informatie into google search engine very soon a new searchengine will rise without the extra information. People want a clean search engine without movies, products etc.. Ain’t you afraid this is going to happen?
    Google is such a huge corporation and is always looking to give the best of the best to its visitors, But in my experience changes are not always good.

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