When worlds collide
Google has kicked off 2012 with a major effort to redefine the relationship between search and social media. In announcing 'Google Search Plus Your World' the search giant reconfirmed its plan to transform into 'a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships'. Search Engine Land published a thorough recap of the new features and some of the issues they create. The pros and cons for marketers were addressed in posts by both Forrester and Lunametrics.
The resulting controversy came about because Google+ is currently the featured social network. Facebook has been quiet about this so far but Twitter quickly registered a complaint about the apparent favored treatment of Google's own social network. The Los Angeles Times said that an FTC complaint is likely to occur.
The Google perspective was explained in part by their engineer Matt Cutts, who used personal examples from his testing to show that non Google+ social content is also included, although clearly it isn't as prominent. In a video recorded by Search Engine Land, Eric Schmidt made the case that Facebook and Twitter need to provide greater access to their data if they would like the see better positioning.
There has also been some thought that people may not want this increased social personalization from Google search. Wired's Steven Levy wrote about 'The Filter Bubble', where increasingly personalized search results may not provide some of the serendipitous listings that were created back in the days when everyone saw the same results. Google may have been thinking of this as well; for the first time there will be a toggle on the results page to easily turn off personalization.