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This week the techno-chamber is losing its mind over Google’s decision to start pushing content from its fledgling social network into its search results.Mat Honan at Gizmodo says he’s switching to Bing, and our own Matt Rosoff says this might be the biggest mistake Google has ever made.
Let’s all just take a deep breath here and think about what we’re saying before going nuts.
Was this move from Google somewhat boneheaded? You bet. It’s going to be favouring its own social network’s results in its monopolistic search engine. For a company already under heavy government scrutiny, this is not the most brilliant move.
But, that’s not the primary complaint from Honan. He says he’s switching to Bing because “Google’s new interface promotes Plus over relevancy,” later adding, “I don’t care if Google hurts Twitter or Facebook—or even Friendsterfor that matter. Boo-hoo. I only care if it hurts me. And this does. Google broke itself.”
And how is Google hurting Honan? Well, it seems like he’s assuming it’s going to hurt him based on Danny Sullivan’s explanatory post at SearchEngineLand that shows how Google+ will affect search results.
In other words, it seems like Honan, and others like him, haven’t actually been affected by Google+ in search yet, they’re just assuming it’s going to happen and they’re getting the hell out of dodge before it happens.
Since the announcement, we’ve been using Google search just as much as ever while signed into Google+. Guess what? No impact on our search results!
Maybe it hasn’t hit us yet. Maybe when it does hit us, we’ll absolutely hate it. In that case, we’ll just hit the little button that kills off personalised search results. In that case, everything is back to normal, and we don’t have to go use Bing, which in our experience is an inferior product.
The maddening thing about people crying about Google’s social results is that just a year ago the big meme was that Google’s search results sucked. They were broken because the algorithm was being gamed by spammy sites.
So Google comes up with a clever solution: mix social results with algorithmic results. And now a new batch of people are screaming about crappy results.
Google just can’t win. If it sits on its hands it’s not innovating. If does something innovative it’s breaking search.
Hopefully it will ignore all of the gripes, and focus on the data. If people actually leave Google, then you can bet it’s going to change its results back to the old system. If people don’t click on the new social results, you can bet they’re going to be de-emphasised.
But if people like getting results that have been approved by humans, then Google is going to plow straight ahead with more Google+ results.
And guess what? That’s a good thing! Because it means the results are better. Which is what users and Google want.
Before everyone freaks out and throws in the towel on Google, why not give the new social results a chance? If they blow, then go to Bing.
We’re sure you’ll love how Microsoft integrates Facebook’s social data into their search engine.