Economy

Google Tweaks Search To Boost Google+, And Rivals Get Angry

A screengrab shows Google's new search feature, in which results from a user's Google+ community are promoted at the top of the page. i i

A screengrab shows Google's new search feature, in which results from a user's Google+ community are promoted at the top of the page. NPR hide caption

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A screengrab shows Google's new search feature, in which results from a user's Google+ community are promoted at the top of the page.

A screengrab shows Google's new search feature, in which results from a user's Google+ community are promoted at the top of the page.

NPR

Social media has become a huge part of how people experience the web. So it's not surprising that Google's move to integrate "personal results" into its web searches — drawing from a user's Google+ profile — wasn't praised by the folks who run rival social networks.

While Google's move was widely seen as a way to help Google+ compete with Facebook, it drew the sharpest response from Twitter, which says Google's changes might keep people from learning about breaking news via tweets.

TechCrunch cites a statement from the company, which reads in part, "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."

For its part, Google notes that neither Facebook nor Twitter allow the company to dig deeply when looking for search results. And the company notes that Twitter canceled the deal that once folded real-time tweets into the top of Google's results for some search terms.

On its corporate Google+ account, Google representative say they were "a bit surprised by Twitter's comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer."

Google announced the tweak to its Search in a blog post Tuesday morning, promoting the new "Your World" approach by promising that it would add a sense of personal connectivity to search results.

The company said that would happen in three ways: "Personal Results," that show things like Google+ photos and posts; "Profiles in Search," which highlights people that might have helpful information; and "People and Pages," which finds profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic.

Google promises that "behind most every query, there's a community." But critics say the "community" featured in Search is restricted to Google+.

Over at Searchblog, John Battelle says it's a shame that Google and Facebook can't figure out a way to bring a social element to search that's both wide and deep.

"The unwillingness of Facebook and Google to share a public commons when it comes to the intersection of search and social is corrosive to the connective tissue of our shared culture," Battelle writes.

Google made headlines last month when it admitted to — and punished itself for — overstepping its bounds in promoting its web browser, Chrome. The company bought ads from an online agency, which hired another company to conduct the campaign.

The end result was that some bloggers were compensated for saying positive things about Chrome. As a penance, Google downgraded the search ranking of Chrome for 60 days.

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