Search Plus Your World: Google and Twitter Exchange Blows

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Google Plus LogoYesterday, Google announced the new “Search plus Your World” update. The change, which is already live for some users, is gradually being rolled out over the next several days. Google will now make it easier for their users to locate Personal Results (user’s own photos and Google+ posts), Profiles in Search (network’s photos and Google+ posts), and People and Pages (topically related photos and Google+ posts).

Google Fellow Amit Singhal said the following regarding the update:

“Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search.”

Within hours of Google launching the new functionality, Twitter released the following statement:

“As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter. As a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant (search) results. We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.”

Although Twitter is attempting to convince web users that Google’s new search feature will make it more difficult to find information that is shared on Twitter, the update has done nothing to change accessibility to Twitter. However, the expiration of the real-time search agreement in July of last year DID affect both visibility and accessibility for web users.

Google quickly responded Twitter’ statement with the following Google+ post:

“We are a bit surprised by Twitter’s comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer, and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions.”

In an interview with Marketing Land, Eric Schmidt indicated that Google+ content is not begin treated more favorably than Twitter or Facebook. However, he did say that if Facebook or Twitter want to perform better in the search results that they should grant Google permission to access their content and data.

Will Critchlow, the founder of Distilled, expressed concern regarding the fact that Google owns a proprietary ranking signal, but emphasized the fact that online marketing is about humans not robots:

“At a strategic level, I think it’s just one more step towards an integration of all forms of online marketing. It’s going to be ever less about impressing robots and ever more about impressing humans.”

With this new update and other evidence pointing towards a more social search landscape, Critchlow’s advice to concentrate on impressing humans rather than robots is valid and worth listening to.

[Sources Include: The Official Google Blog, Cnet & EConsultancy]

David Angotti

David Angotti

After successfully founding and exiting an educational startup in 2009, I began helping companies with business development, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO),... Read Full Bio
David Angotti
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  • As the search for “Mark Zuckerberg” shows, the new feature is a huge failure. Google will give preference to its Google+ profiles, completely ignoring much more mature and content-rich Twitter or Facebook profiles.

    The “Do no evil” slogan seems now as far detached from reality as it can be.

    On another note, with the recent changes, it becomes even more difficult for SEO agencies to bill their clients. When results are so personalized, there’s no point in charging for positions in the SERPs. I guess other metrics are necessary, such as traffic growth / conversion, etc.

  • I personally follow Twitter more, so when I see the things on Facebook I often think that FB has stolen

  • Anthony Pensabene

    Thanks for the write up, Dave. The immediacy of the Google+ modification will pass, but it’s been interesting to see the amount of passion in the industry and what I keep referring to as “sleuthing.” Will Critchlow makes a good point; it is about impressing humans, the ultimate consumers and champions of information, products, and services sought. Google will ultimately have to adhere to its consumers too. If the brand begins taking away from the user experience of its SE, or instills rules not applicapable to ALL brands on its engine, we the people will notice and seek service elsewhere.

    I made this point yesterday; from my view, it seems difficult for G to be an organic/paid SE while providing other services and products as well. There’s going to be a noticeable conflict of interest. Also, the competition between the two brands ultimately hurts users. Twitter made a good point in its statement; we do use it to get news; the lack of tweets or accounts in SERPs does take away from the SE experience. So, Twitter/G, can we come to an agreement so users get the service promised to us, an enriching Web experience? Or is it going to be us who ultimately suffer because “business” is disturbing “service?”

    • David Angotti

      Hi Anthony,

      I agree entirely about the potential for a conflict of interest. However, I believe the “search plus your world” update may be primarily to “encourage” Facebook and Twitter to allow Google to access their data and in the end provide higher quality results for users — time will tell. . . Thanks for reading and your comment.

  • At the end of the day, Google is a company out to make profit just like anyone else so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that they’re giving preferential treatment to their own social network over the other big two (Twitter and Facebook) because they have to catch up, but strategically?

    Strategically, it’s a quick draw McGraw move and by that I mean sure Google + may have millions of users but it has far from penetrated all countries like Twitter and Facebook have. Result: potentially less relevant/up-to-date news in Google which forces it’s users to directly visit Twitter and news sites to get the latest news resulting in less people using Google. If I were Bing? I would be alllllll over Twitter right now…

  • Namita Patel

    Dennis, Anthony and Marcin make excellent points. In the end, this seems like a thinly-veiled attempt at further monopolistic control of search and a weak enforcement of use of Google+. At the end of the day, it is the user who pays the price. So much for relevance!

  • Lots of persons find it very hard to deal with ‘conflict of interest issues’. If Google wants Facebook and Twitter to give consumers more relevant content thumbs up. If Google is trying to stifle the growth and popularity of the other two then I just don’t know what will happen.

    We will just have to wait and see. I just hope that they also take time to revisit the webmaster rules they urge every webmaster to ‘carefully read’.