Google is constantly working on the search experience, tweaking it and making changes to improve both search and their place at the top. Now Google has introduced its most radical change yet, as it rolls out “Search Plus Your World” this week.
The biggest +1 for users is the ability to find content from the whole World Wide Web combined with items that have been shared in your private Google plus account in one easy search result. But the new search raises some concerns over privacy and competition.
What You Can Expect to See with Search Plus Your World
Not everyone will see the change right away; it should take several days to go live across the board. For now, only those logged into their Google account and searching for English content can see the new search results. To know whether you’re seeing new Search Plus Your World results, look for a box at the top of a search that should alert you that you’re seeing new content.
The default setting in the new Google search includes “Personal Results” that come from your social connections through Google+. The personal results are integrated with results from the rest of the web. You can see that you’re using personal search by looking for the buttons at the top right of the search return page, where you’ll find buttons to either include or not to include these personal results. By clicking the globe button, you’re turning off the personal search and only getting more traditional search results on the page.
What You Can Expect to Find in Search Plus Your World?
When you have personal search turned on, Google will return content from the web, both based on your personal web habits and social connections, and content from Google+ posts, updates and images that have been shared with you on the social media platform. The biggest concern for many is that Google also shows private content in search results. You should note that while this content seems to be available to all in the search, your private content will only show up in your personal search and that of those you have shared it with, not the whole Google world.
It just looks like it does.
For now, Google’s new Search Plus doesn’t include content from its biggest competitor, Facebook, nor from Twitter or Flickr. Content shared on those sites is fiercely protected by their Terms of Service. Google has been itching to get into Facebook’s data for years, and this new personal search may just be the in they’ve been searching for. If Facebook’s user numbers suffer when people find it easier to find info on Google+, Facebook may start to see Google in a new light.
Is Search Plus Your World Keeping Your Data Secure?
Google’s biggest hurdle in launching the new personal search had less to do with privacy concerns and more to do with security issues. When you use Search Plus Your World on a connection that isn’t secure, all of your search returns, including private content that should only be visible to you, becomes a target for virtual eavesdropping.
To solve this issue, Google encrypts any private material that is included in our search, and can be seen only by your browser and by Google. Anyone monitoring your date through the open Internet connection won’t be able to see the encrypted search results.
You can opt out of personal search by visiting Search Setting on your Google account, or on a search-by-search basis by using the toggle switches on the main search page. This toggle switch makes it easy to page back and forth between normal and personal search results.
As these new Search Plus Your World features are rolled out and users start learning more about them, more concerns over privacy and Google’s monopoly over search will no doubt come up faster than you can find them. For now, Google is at the top of the search game and Google+ is at the top of every page, whether you like it or not.