Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Radical Change In Search?

I came across an article in CNN this evening that discusses what some are calling a "radical change in search" in the way Google may deliver some search results to you. What's all the fuss?

Well, now if you are logged into your Google account, when you do a search on something, Google will also provide you with what they call your "personal results" as well as other more generic and organic results. Sounds like an interesting concept. Google is talking about it like this on their own blog:

"But clearly, that isn't enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the Web, the people you know and things they've shared with you, as well as the people you don't know but might want to ... all from one search box."

Words can often mean different things. In this case, "radical" isn't quite the word that describes what Google is probably hoping for, and I am personally a bit dubious that this addition of "personal search results" will greatly transform the general internet user's way of searching.  I have several reasons for this dubiousness.

The first one is that I think Google obviously has some work to do on this "personal results" area. I have a Google account (which I will discuss later) and logged into it to see what I could see. Sure enough, when I went to Google.com, and typed in 'fly fishing', I was given an option to see my so called "personal results." All 300 of them, apparently. So out of curiousity, I clicked.

Somehow or other, Google thinks I should be interested in some individuals named "Ed Burgass," "Dean Burris," and "Shannon Long." With all due respect to these three individuals, I have no clue who they are or why Google thinks I should either know them or want to know them, other than that they have some fly fishing related images up somewhere. But surely there are some others interested in fly fishing that might have images up as well? Indeed, while playing around with my Google + part of my Google account, I have friends there that I know quite well and have even competed with in fly fishing competions.

And yet these people are not there in my "personal results" even though in their own web wanderings, they have uploaded fly fishing images (using their Google Account as well).

At the top of the results are "Images for fly fishing." The very first image in the row is an image of a wine bottle beside a wooden fountain pen case sitting on my desk. Sure, it's my image, and it's on my home winemaking site, but it's certainly got nothing to do with fly fishing or my fly fishing site!

The title and file name have nothing to do with fly fishing either. So I am puzzled as to why it would appear there when there are so many other images that I do have that ARE related directly to fly fishing.

The next result in my "personal results" is a link to my above mentioned fly fishing site, but the rest of the results don't make sense to me other than the fact they were "shared" by the above mentioned people, Ed Burgass, Shannon Long, and Dean Burris.

More Dubious Reasons That "This Is Radical"

Personally, more of my friends don't have Google and Gmail addresses than do. I realize that there are lots and lots of individuals that do have Gmail and thereby a Google Account, but from my own unscientific studies, the majority of average internet users do not. They don't see the need for another email address; they are quite happy with what they have.

Don't get me wrong, I love Google and all the nifty features they offer along with a Google account. But there are so many, I really don't even have the time to explore them all! I don't think the average internet user has the time either.  As well, although I have a Gmail account, I use it in a very limited fashion. It's where I subscribe to newsletters like Dr. Mercola.. who has some quacky ideas, but I'm sometimes interested in his quacky ideas but don't want his emails polluting my primary email address and distracting me from my work and close friends.Sometimes there are websites offering "free reports" which might be interested in reading but I don't want to take the chance that they will send me daily email once I subscribe.

I also use when I need to test and diagnose an issue between email servers. And that's about it. I check my gmail address maybe once a week at best.

Having said that, I do use some of the other features of a Google Account regularly.

I also will often create Google and Gmail accounts on behalf of my clients and provide them with the login credentials out of transparency, but I know for a fact they have no interest in logging in. They just want me to do the work I have promised and send them reports. They don't have time to mess around.

Finally, Google+ is so unintuitive in my opinion, that the average internet user will not ever really use it to it's full potential. I'm pretty smart and internet savvy, and I even get confused and am sort of "not quite getting it" as far as how Google+ is organized, or what's going to happen if I share "publically" or just in "circles" or what have you.  There really isn't much reason for the average internet user and consumer to jump into Google+ and leave Facebook, in my opinion.

However, we do know from seeing some search results, that Google appears to have at least a litte bit of ranking built into their algorithms that they use Google+'s even in their organic search, and not just in what you and your friends may have "plussed" while logged into  Google accounts. So for those of us involved in search engine optimization, we need to learn as much as we can and make adjustments - but at this juncture, I'm not so sure we're going to see any "radical" changes in the typical meaning of the word.




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