Google Search Results Now Include Your Private Content

In the coming days, you may see a dramatic change in how Google presents your search results. Google has already been integrating social search with regular search since February 2011, placing pages that your connections have shared on Google+ or other sites (excluding Facebook) higher in search results. For example, let’s say I search for The Marketing Zen Group.

This article by our CEO Shama Kabani appears very high up on my first page of results. Since I am logged into my Google account and Shama is in my circles on Google+, articles that she shares are deemed more relevant to me. When I log out of my Google account, this article no longer appears on the first page of search results. If you want to try this experiment yourself, try searching your own name while logged in and then while logged out.

Google Search plus Your World

Google’s new personalized search takes the old social search a step further. Search plus Your World introduces three distinct features that are sure to dramatically impact the way people search in the future.

1. You will now see privately shared content in your search results. You’ll still see pages that your friends have publicly given a +1, but now your search results will begin to include private or “Limited” Google+ posts and photos that have been shared with you, as well as pictures shared with you on Picasa. Although it seems weird to see public and private content side by side in a search, your privacy settings have not changed. Think of it as a standard Google search, now integrated with the Google+ search function.

2. Google+ profiles will appear in search and search results. Although Google+ pages already announced the direct connect search feature, personal profiles will now also appear in the autocomplete box and search results. If you begin to search the name of a person in your Google+ circles, autocomplete will suggest a personalized profile. Clicking on this will direct you to search results specifically for this person, collected from Google+ and around the web.

3. You’ll receive people and page suggestions related to your search. In an example taken from Google’s blog, say you search the term “music” on Google. A sidebar will pop up with suggestions for who you might like to add to your circles – musical artists, music reviewers, music publications, etc.

What does this mean for online marketers?

If your business doesn’t already have a Google+ page, get one right now. Search plus Your World is poised to revolutionize the way people find information, and your Google+ presence is now more valuable than ever. For those in the world of online marketing, this new type of search means that creating content people want to +1 and share on Google+ is even more essential. Integrate a +1 button into your website or blog. Optimize your Google+ profile, page, and posts with SEO keywords.

What if I don’t want personalized search results?

Search plus Your World is the new default search setting, but you have the choice to opt-out. You can turn personalized search off permanently, or toggle it on a per-search basis via a button at the top of your search.

What impact do you think the new Google search will have on search engine marketing?

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  • David

    I can’t believe the direction google is taking. I understand their thinking, but I think they are very very wrong on this. A search engine should return impartial results, not try to ‘think’ about the search results and determine what it thinks I want to see! That’s like a car that tries to figure out where you want to go.

    On the surface it may seem great but let’s say all my online friends are low-common-denomminator types. Are my search results going to be influenced by that, just because socially I enjoy a no-brainer level of engagement, are my search results now going to be based on that activity? What if I want to search for a high-brow article that shares an off-colour keyword? Are my first page results all going to reflect what google ‘thinks’ I am looking for?

    I’m overreaching I know, but the point is google has no idea what I want to know, and attempting to use some sort of search AI to figure out my search results is just ridiculous and won’t work.

    I don’t want google trying to do my thinking for me, just do my searching for me.

    • Amy Rose Brown

      I think a lot of people out there will be raising similar concerns, and I’m sure Google was anticipating it as well. You do have to remember that you can turn the new search function off for good and go back to the way Google previously returned results (or simply log out of your Google account).

  • Janet Goldstein

    Wow – this is a bit scary and overwhelming. I was just getting the idea that I didn’t have to sweat Google+. What do you think is important for solo and micro-entrepreneurs to know in adapting to this new world?

    And thanks for your great articles. j

  • Ragu Kattinakere

    I do not like this so I logout and search. I like the comment “That’s like a car that tries to figure out where you want to go”.