July 19, 2011 ByErik Baeumlisberger
Google’s latest attempt to build and grow a social network is called Google+
(spoken as “Google Plus”).
Because most people are sharing links, articles and ideas outside of the Google network (mostly via Facebook and Twitter), the search giant has found itself at a disadvantage. Google has undoubtedly noticed that people are consuming massive amounts of content based on the recommendations of friends within their social networks. Because of this rate of consumption, Google has taken interest in the relationship of the content being consumed to the interests of the user.
This relationship can be described as “relevancy”, which is one of the challenges Google faces with its primary service offering – search. Search results have to be relevant in order to be deemed useful, so tapping into the relevant recommendations of friends may dramatically increase the efficacy of their primary service offering.
Google has already displayed a major interest in customizing search results based on click activity. By default, results shown while logged-in to a Google Account are customized based on previous search and click activity. The concept of personalized search is currently being taken a step further with the +1 Project, where users can promote relevant listings to the top of the SERPs.
The first pitfall is privacy. Although Google has enabled +Circles (similar to Facebook Groups) users must also be aware that they are sharing information about themselves to Google. In addition, some searches are best left “off the record” which can only be done by first logging out of the network.
The second pitfall is filtering. Overly filtered results may prove cumbersome and undesirable to many users, causing a backlash against Google. A competing search engine offering “100% Unfiltered Internet” may quickly gain momentum while Google’s focus is on customization.
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