As of today, Google is rolling out a modification to the standard Google search we all know and love. From here on out, your vanilla Google search will also include personal results from your Google+ account. Obviously, if you don’t have a Google+ account, this isn’t going to affect you too much; but even if you have one you don’t frequently use it, you’ll probably start noticing a few changes. The three big elements as Google lays them out are the addition of Personal Results, Profiles in Search, and People and Pages.
Personal Results is pretty much what it sounds like. Your Google search will start trawling all your Google+ information — and publicly shared information from your friends — that might pertain to your search. Pretty straight forward, right? The benefit is that you can now just go to Google to explicitly search for pictures your buddies may have shared, or maybe you’ll turn up a recommendation from a friend when searching a restaurant. It will turn up private info, but only to you, so don’t freak if you see it.
Perhaps the best example of this feature was mentioned on the Official Google Blog post announcing the changes. Amit Singhal, the author of the post, mentions that he named his dog “Chikoo” after a fruit that’s apparently called a chikoo. Thanks to Personal Results, it means that if he does a Google search for Chikoo he’ll get results pertaining to the fruit and pictures of his dog, which only have relevance as results to him personally. Pretty neat.
Profiles in Search is another pretty self-explanatory one. Thanks to Profiles in Search, when you go to search for the name of someone who’s connected to you in some way, shape, or form on Google+, you’ll get a link to their Google+ profile in your Google Instant prediction list. Click that and it’ll take you right there. Simple. Another useful aspect of the feature is that if you have a buddy with a common name — or a famous one — it’ll give you the one you know, not the 100s that you don’t. And of course, it’ll prompt you to add any results to your circles and recommend various high-profile Google+ users who might be relevant. They really want you to start using Google+, man.
People and Pages is the one mostly likely to affect all you non-users out there. Google search results will now start returning Google+ pages related to the query, and Google+ users who are prominent in the field or talk about the subject a lot, making for a little crossover into Profiles in Search. This one, out of the three, is the least about giving you back your own Google+ information and the most about getting you to engage with Google+ more by returning items you don’t know about. Naturally, it’s also the one that has the least to do with what you actually do on Google+, so you might get a lot of results even if you never do anything on there.
Thankfully, if this all sounds horrifying to you, you can just turn it off. Granted, you have to opt out, but it’s still an option. Google is adding a little toggle to the upper right-hand side of the page where you can select personal results (which include all of the above, plus things Google has sussed out from your web history if you let them look, etc.) and non-personal results (which don’t). The toggle only applies for only one search by default, but you can set it to be the default in your settings, if you want.
Clearly, Google is leaning towards a more and more personalized search process. After all, how long can it be before Google Docs gets roped into the mix, and Gmail, and Contacts? I’m on the fence about whether that process frightens me or excites me, but I will say that this might actually get me to start using Google+ a little bit more. Granted, I’ve said that at least 3 times in the past, but maybe this time it’ll stick.
(via The Official Google Blog)
- Google+ finally allowed pseudonyms
- And rolled out a punch of improvements to Pages, the News Feed, and Lightbox
- And a way to watch posts “Ripple” outwards