If you’re signed into Google.com when you search, you’re going to start seeing a new message on your search results page.
A message like this:
If you see that above your results, it means that you’ve Google’s latest search format, “Search Plus Your World.”
This feature went live yesterday, but hasn’t been activated everywhere yet, and essentially combines normal search results with content that’s been shared with you privately through Google+, as well as “standard” personalised results based on your search and browsing history.
Your results page will show you how many personal results it contains, as well as how many normal “web” results, and while it blends them together on the first page, you also have the option to toggle between them by clicking a button.
Google has been personalising search results for a long time already. At first, you had to opt-in to receive results that were filtered based on your own search and browsing habits, but it soon became fairly default, and even searches that aren’t performed by people who are logged in will personalise to a certain extent, based on your location, previous searches, and your history.
With this latest Search Plus Your World offering, results have the option of a “Personal Results” view, that shows results based on your behaviour and social connections, (much like before), as well as stuff that’s been shared with you via Google+.
Well, the first one is obvious…the fact that private data is showing up in your search results does not mean it’s visible to everybody. It looks like a normal search results, but you can rest assured that they won’t show up in anybody else’s results, unless it was shared with them first.
Another thing that we’re wondering about (and we’re not the only ones) is the exclusion of non-Google+ data from this. Basically, if you’re not using Google+, then you won’t get any of this level of personalisation. Which in itself is fine, as far as it goes.
The problem isn’t that only Google+ users can see stuff shared with them on Google+. That should be self-evident. The problem is that Google seems to be favouring itself more and more when it comes to results.
Used to be that the point of Google was to give you the best result to your query. More and more it seems, they’re offering the best result that is part of Google+. And while they may be within their rights to do so, it’s not exactly in the spirit of what Google was supposed to be about, is it?