Google runs into backlash over latest search changes

Google made some substantial changes to its search engine this week, part of an initiative that it calls “Search Plus Your World” that incorporates results from users’ social networks, focusing heavily on its own Google+.

So far it’s not proving very popular. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land this week posted a series of examples making the case that the changes promote Google+ at the expense of the relevancy of the search results.

Mat Honan of Gizmodo says he has changed his default to Microsoft Bing.

Google’s new approach is “ostensibly meant to deliver more personalized results,” Honan writes. “But it pulls those personalized results largely from Google services—Google+, Picasa, YouTube. Search for a restaurant, and instead of its Yelp page, the top result might be someone you know discussing it on Google Plus.”

The big question is whether Google will find itself in more hot water with antitrust regulators over these changes. This move certainly doesn’t help the company at a time when its business practices are coming under increased scrutiny.

One point working in the company’s favor on the antitrust front is that Facebook has a tighter partnership with Microsoft, allowing the Redmond company to integrate Facebook data into Bing results. That could help Google defend its practices, if it’s able to say that it would incorporate Facebook results if it had access to the date.

In the short-run, however, its bigger problem may be the user backlash. Should be interesting to see how those search market share numbers play out over the next few months.

  • Mario Aguila

    If I don’t want to get social result, is up to me to deselect that option. Easy!

    • Guest

      If I *do* want social results, it is up to me to *select* that option.

      Google could have kept me as a customer by simply posting, “Hey George, we can now incorporate Google+ into your search results. Want to do that? [Yes] [No]“. They didn’t do that. They assumed I wanted this feature. I don’t. Now Google has lost a customer who has been using their search engine for more than 9 years.

      If Google keeps this hostile behavior up, I may have to stop using Google Reader and Google Mail. I really don’t want to have to do that.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Bing on continuing to gain market share! It’s really sad to see how Google, once the model of simplicity, has resorted to foisting its half-baked social network on innocent web searchers.

    Remember when Google was a logo, a search box (without any dropdowns or instantization), a “Google Search” button, and an “I’m Feeling Lucky!” button? I know I do. I have made the switch to a simpler decision engine and I’m urging all of my followers, likers, and encircleds to do the same.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never used Google…  is it supposed to be good? :-)

  • http://twitter.com/ondraster Ondra Moravek

    What is Google+? Isn’t G+ in the graveyard already? :D

  • Guest

    Google has certainly assumed Microsoft’s mantle of dubious corporate behavior. This feels so much like 1996 that I feel like putting my Dole/Kemp bumperstickers back on the Ford Explorer.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Their dubious plan to bake G+ into search results goes farther than just the search engine. My Google Analytics dashboard has reports called “Social Engagement” which only refer to G+ activities, which are virtually non-existent for us.

    Report would have meaning if they gave credit to Twitter and FB, which do draw quite measurable traffic for us.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    It may end up that the greatest benefit of Microsoft’s social search deals with Facebook and Twitter is that it forced Google to make a big mistake.

    Remains to be seen, but the Gizmodo piece in particular makes a very compelling argument and one that’s not borne out of any pro/anti Microsoft/Google stance.