Photo: Matt Rosoff
A couple weeks ago, Google started blending social information from Google+ into search results.The blogosphere’s reaction to this change, which Google called Search Plus Your World, was swift, loud, and mostly negative.
Twitter complained that Google was unfairly favouring its own social network over competitors, then a programmer at Facebook seemed to prove it. Worse yet, the results seemed to be less relevant in a lot of cases, leading a number of people to declare Bing the better search engine.
But in all the noise, what do users think?
According to Google search fellow Amit Singhal, who first announced the changes, they love it.
Earlier tonight, Singhal told reporter Danny Sullivan — who has pointed out some very clear instances where Google is delivering less relevant results — that “the users who have seen this in the wild are liking it, and our initial data analysis is showing the same.”
That’s even true when users see stuff that they’ve shared to private circles show up in their search results: “Every time a real user is getting those results, they really are delighted. Given how personal this product is, you can only judge it based on personal experiences or by aggregate numbers you can observe through click-through.”
So what about that accusation that Google was purposely blocking Twitter?
Here, Singhal dances around the question a bit, saying that Twitter suddenly cut off Google’s access to its full data stream, which made its Realtime Search product suddenly irrelevant. The Realtime Search team “put their heart and souls into building a great product, just to see that go to waste.”
In fact, it’s not clear that Twitter was to blame — the companies were apparently negotiating, and couldn’t reach a deal. But Singhal’s point was that it doesn’t matter WHO broke negotiations off — Google doesn’t want to be dependent on anybody else for its search product. “I’m just very wary of building a product where the terms can changed.”