Google’s global dominance as a search engine cannot be disputed, with ComScore Inc figures from October showing that the firm enjoyed a market share of 65.6 per cent in the US during that month, compared to Yahoo!’s 15.2 per cent, but could its latest search changes push internet browsers to use other providers?
Google has recently made changes to its social search which put focus heavily on profiles, posts and photos from its Google+ social networking site. While the membership figures for Google+ might suggest this is a wise move – some reports have estimated its membership to now be between 60 and 70 million – the number of people with an account does not necessarily tally with the amount of active members.
A quick test of this new search function – typing my own name into the Google search box – shows the changes immediately. My Google+ profile is the seventh result on the first page, with my Twitter account one place above. Move over to Google Images and the first result is my profile picture. The third, fourth, fifth and eighth are the profile images of people I have in my friendship circles.
This move to more personalised results was described by Google as a step which will create a “search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships” – but will it actually be useful?
An example Google uses is that those searching for an ideal holiday destination could be guided to photographs from the place added by their Google+ acquaintances, but is this really a useful option for getaway planners? Wouldn’t they rather be taken to the country’s tourist information site, or a cheap flight comparison website?
Most of us still get our social networking fix from Zuckerberg and the crew over at Facebook and Google’s changes may simply be a tactic to try and boost interest in its own social networking options – but is personalised search the best way to encourage interaction from Facebook loyal internet users?