Whenever Google makes any sizeable change to their algorithm or search results, a massive wave of opinionated blog posts, tweets, status updates, video responses, and comments is unleashed across the Web.
This week Google launched something new. They call it “Search Plus Your World.”
Your World? My World? What is that even supposed to mean?
No, Google isn’t planning for world domination. Well, okay. Maybe Web domination, but there’s a difference.
It’s time to cut through all the buzz and fluff so we can find out how this is really going to affect you.
Search Plus Your World: What Is It?
With the new “Your World” feature, you can expect to see social results from your Google+ account blended into regular search results. Let’s not act too surprised now. We all knew that this was coming.
So, in addition to traditional authoritative results like Wikipedia, you’ll also be shown relevant social results that are privately shared with you through Google+. That includes photos, blog posts, articles, videos, and more.
That’s right, people. Search just got a whole lot more personal.
Cool, But What Does It All Really Mean?
Now we’re really seeing how Google search is moving farther away from being powered entirely by robots and moving toward being powered a lot more by people.
If you want your stuff to be seen, it now matters how large your G+ network is and what you’re sharing there (with appropriate keywords).
Let’s look at an example. I’m already signed into my Google+ account by default, and I type “Photoshop” into Google. With this new “Your World” fanciness, I can see that 100 personal results from my G+ social graph are displayed, mixed in with 117,000,000 other results.
Each search result coming from your social graph is marked with a little blue person icon, to the left of each title link.
When I choose to “Hide personal results,” which is an option located at the top of the page, all of those socially shared posts, photos, or whatever totally disappear.
If I were a Photoshop guru with thousands and thousands of people in my G+ circles, I’d probably be pretty happy right now, because when those thousands and thousands of people go searching for the keyword “Photoshop” and they have their personal results turned on, my shared posts on Photoshop could potentially show up on the first page of Google for all of those people to see. That’s some powerful stuff.
It Affects Image Search Too
You better believe that your image results are going to be affected by this too, according to the type of images that are shared by the people in your G+ social graph.
When I type the keyword “dog” into Google with personal results turned on, a block of images turn up with pictures of dogs that I know, because they’re the dogs that are owned by my friends that I’m connected to on G+. The names of these people are also displayed on each image.
The Big Issue That Everyone Is Talking About
So, is this really “Your World,” as Google puts it? For a lot of people, it isn’t. I’m not terribly active on Google+. In fact, I prefer Facebook and Twitter.
And guess what? Your World personal results don’t do anything with your social graph on Facebook or Twitter. How nice.
You may have already heard that Twitter is giving Google a lot of flack for what they’ve done here, arguing that news always breaks on Twitter first. They openly stated that Search Plus Your World will make it more difficult for people to find information they really want to find.
Instead of being “Your World,” they’re saying that this seems a lot more like “Google’s World.”
To make matters worse, Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel, recently lashed back again even harder against Google. He used the example of searching for the term: “@wwe.”
With Search Plus Your World, the official WWE website is the first result for “@wee”, followed by the official WWE Google+ Page.
But wouldn’t someone searching “@wwe” be looking for the Twitter profile because of the “@” symbol, rather than the Google+ Page? Yes. Exactly.
There are a lot of people arguing that Google is foolishly showing their own property in search results rather than showing the obviously more relevant search results of competitors, such as Twitter. On the other hand, some are saying that Twitter should get off Google’s case and quit their whining.
Should they? It’s obvious that Twitter and Google are not seeing eye to eye right now.
What Can You Do?
There’s a lot of negative stuff going on out there about the Your World search integration, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of these new social search features right now. Here’s what you can do to help get your stuff seen:
Expand your network: Getting people to add you to their circles can improve the chance of your shared posts ranking in their Google search results. Network with people, and add a visible link to your G+ profile or page on your website if you can.
Organize your circles: Share the right content with the right people. If you’ve got a “Dog Lovers” circle, you’ll know to share relevant posts, photos and videos about dogs with them.
Don’t forget about keywords: Keywords still rule with Google. Before you share that post with your circles, make sure they’ve got the right keywords in them if you want them to show up in your friends’ personal search results.
Be mindful of generic file names: Lots of people simply upload something like image.jpg without realizing that keywords help to establish them in Google search. If you’re uploading photos to Google+, change the file names to a related phrase or keyword.
Share stuff: Last but not least, taking advantage of this new “Your World” feature has everything to do with how active you’re willing to be on Google+. Post stuff, interact, and get found on Google.
What Do You Think About “Your World”?
Have you tried it? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Are you outraged by all the bickering that’s going on between Google and Twitter? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Elise is a writer and the About.com Guide to Web Trends. She is addicted to Reese’s peanut buttercups and Apple iPads. Follow her at @ElisesReview. And don’t forget to come hang out with CopyPress on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr!