What the New Google Search Is Really All About

"Search Plus Your World" makes personalized search results a reality for the Internet giant

If you’re an advanced social networker, you need no introduction to Google Plus, the search giant’s foray into social networking that launched last summer to much fanfare before quieting during the fall. But for many others, the news Tuesday from the California company that they were rolling out a new and personalized search makes Google Plus much more relevant to the masses.

In what noted tech blog SearchEngineLand.com is referring to as “the most radical transformation ever” to Google’s search product, the company announced what they’re calling “Search, Plus Your World.”

What exactly does it mean? Starting Tuesday, Google will no longer give you billions of web page results based on your browsing history, but will customize them based on what you and your connections are sharing. In short, it’s a way to see what other people in your world are saying, doing and recommending around the web.

One catch, you’ll need to be a member of Google Plus for it to work properly as Google intends. Search Plus Your World doesn’t cover content from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or other more limited social networks. It’s strictly a Google product.

"Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of Web pages, images, videos, news and much more," Google said in a blog post on Tuesday morning announcing the new search.

"But clearly, that isn't enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the Web, the people you know and things they've shared with you, as well as the people you don't know but might want to ... all from one search box."

They added that “Search is simply better with your world in it.”

Of note: this really is nothing new. Google has been personalizing search results since 2005 based on your interests and past behaviors. In December 2009, that became a default setting regardless of whether you were signed into a product like Google Mail.

For the common Google user, there will be three new features to pay attention to (also via the blog post):

  1. "Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google Plus photos and posts -- both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
  2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
  3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google Plus pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community."

Search Plus Your World may cause some privacy worries initially, as private content may appear as if it is exposed publicly (don’t worry, it is not). It might also cause concern by making private content more visible to friends and family than those sharing it may have initially intended. That should make people more conscious of what they share moving forward.

Like Facebook did with their Timeline roll-out, Google isn't asking users whether they want the new feature, it's just turning it on for all English-speaking users over the next few days. If you don't want the feature, you have to turn it off through the “Search Settings” area on Google (look for the gear icon at the top right corner of the window).

At the end of the day, the update makes material specifically related to the person searching more relevant as the Google algorithm determines. So your Google search results won’t be the same as what your mother, your father or your boss sees if you are signed into Google. Is that a good thing? To see more, check out the video Google released introducing the product below.

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