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Is Google putting at risk its business model that it is aiming at protecting?

25/01/2012

Google+ Search Your World is now live and means a significant change to Google search results.

Search Engine Land has a good review of those implications:
http://searchengineland.com/googles-results-get-more-personal-with-search-plus-your-world-107285

This move is a clear strategy to encourage advertisers and other publishers to get on board with Google+. Given the non participation of Twitter and Facebook, Google can be seen to be moving into the “closed” eco system typical of Apple but against their historical open philosophy.

Product integration appears to make business sense though: using the dominant position of Google in search to support their social network product that is struggling to take off could be a winning strategy. However this move could actually back lash and prove counter productive if it was to disappoint users expecting to find “neutral” results when running Google searches.

Recent work from Facebook & Twitter engineers tends to demonstrate that Google is actually skewing search results with Search Your World to improve the ranking of Google+ data:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx3-idYfY_o#!?wmode=transparent]

This could threaten Google’s core business, which is the trust of its users relying on its unbiased algorithm to access all their information online. It would give ground for alternative search engine solutions to gain in appeal.

From a more philosophical point of view, being more social in search results presents some benefits in terms of being more relevant to users but isn’t there a risk to narrow people’s view: it is comforting to get results more relevant to oneself but isn’t it the point of search to broaden your perspectives above all? We already know about the natural laziness of not going beyond the first page for results but is this new development even more a risk for searchers to just focus on what relates to their “own world” as social results are shown first?