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Did Google Goof?

Posted by Daniel Flamberg on January 14th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Google’s decision to weight its +1 button and display Google+ results has created a very interesting contretemps. On one hand, Google is puting its thumb on the scale they invented. On the other hand they are monetizing their unique IP and stitching together their own technology, ostensibly to serve us better.

Google presents and spins these changes as a consumer benefit. Google transforms “into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships,”  they claim. The three new features are: personal results, profiles in search and people and pages. The so-called benefit is that your Google search results will be even more personalized, thanks to information shared on Google+.

Predictably Microsoft is crying foul, arguing that Google unfairly weights its own stuff above everyone else’s and in so doing skews the real value of search engine results. They have begun to aggressively use this move to switch pitch users and advertisers.

Google streaked to success by offering a different way to categorize and rank search engine results based on inferred popularity and usefulness. They’ve used this mantra to cloak every subsequent move. At the same time, they’ve taught us all how to search. Google is both a verb and an deeply embedded part of our online behavior and muscle memory, so to speak.

The likelihood of BING, newly ascendant over Yahoo, creating enough negative buzz over a sustained time period to prompt mass defections is low. Though Google’s own behavior may help Microsoft’s cause depending on the extent to which they favor themselves in SERPs and the reach, depth or intensity of the perception that Google has conned all of us for the last decade.

It’s a very interesting turn of events, though it’s hard to predict how things will shake out. But its gonna be fun to watch.

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