They Did It: Google Personalizes Search & It Is Not Evil
Google has "shipped the Google part" of Google+, and everything went better than expected. Today, Google launches Personal Results, Profiles in Search, and People and Pages, new features of its core search product that mark the real beginning of Google's social search era. Google search now has two modes: global and personalized. Personal search results show content from your Google+ network, and global search results appear as though you're logged out of Google+.
If you're like me, you've dreaded this day. Just last week, I wrote that Google+ was going to mess up the Internet by turning Web search into a popularity contest. But the new Google unveiled today leaves the user in control. "Search, plus Your World," Google has called it. It's two kinds of search, and they're separate. If you don't want Google+-flavored results, just switch to global mode. You can even turn off personalized search altogether.
When you're in personal mode, you can now see your own stuff and stuff shared with you on Google+, even if it's not a public post. This includes photos, Google+ posts and shared links. Personal mode still shows global Web results, but it mixes those in with the social results Google thinks are most relevant. Personalized results are marked with a blue person icon.
At the top, where you're used to seeing the number of search results, you'll now see how many personal results and overall results turned up from your query. If you click the number of personal results, it will show you personal results only, taking out the global results. Flipping between personalized and global results takes one click. Both modes are available in Web search and image search.
Even when you search in personal mode, Google wants to show you the most relevant result at the top, even if its not from Google+. Prior to today's update, this wasn't happening reliably. The source of my concerns about Google+ was the prominence of Google+ results in search when outside Web results were more relevant. In the example slide Google showed to me, a search for "49ers" produced 49ers.com as the top result in personal mode, followed by Google+ posts.
The San Francisco 49ers do not have a Google+ page. I asked Google Fellow Ben Gomes whether that would be the top result if they did. He said the global result would be more relevant, and if the administrator of the Google+ page linked it with the website, that would be even more accurate. "It's an algorithm," Gomes reminded me. "It's not perfect, but we're tuning it to provide the most relevant results for our users."
If you don't buy it, or if a particular search doesn't personalize the way you'd like, just click the little Earth icon, and you get normal, global search results.
Of course, this mode will still privilege content posted to Google+ ahead of other social networks. Your friends' Google+ photos will take precedence here over their Instagram photos. But now that we can turn off personalization completely, it doesn't feel like Google is foisting Google+ content on us as much anymore.
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Source: Read Write Web