Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tarleton Tip Thursday #5 (G+): Understanding (and Using) Google's Search Plus

 Welcome back to Tarleton Tip Thursdays, where every week we give you tips to help you harness the power of social media. 


What is “Search Plus?”
It seems like every day we hear about Google’s growth and the changes being made. Most recently, you may have heard about “Search Plus.”  Officially called “Search plus Your World” (SPYW), it encompasses search results from your Google+ networks and related profiles in addition to the public information traditionally returned via the search engine.

When did this happen?
Google announced the launch of SPYW in January; however, it is actually not new to the social media world. CNET News explains that social searches, such as Google’s SPYW, have been slowly evolving over the last five years or so. Other tech companies like Microsoft (via its Bing search engine) and Facebook have also launched their versions of social search products.

What does this mean for you?
Up until the creation of social search and particularly SPYW, search engines returned results based chiefly on how many other pages linked to that page. SPYW assumes that you want to first see results related to your Google Circles. In this screen shot, the top search results are labeled “personal results.”

(Image via The Official Google Blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/search-plus-your-world.html)

What About Facebook and Twitter?
It’s important to understand that SPYW does not pull social data from sites like Facebook and Twitter, which did not go unnoticed by the social networking giants.  Instead, it uses its own Google Circles network to highlight posts from your Google Circles that are relevant to your search.  Google touts that “Search is simply better with your world in it.”

SPYW only works if you are signed into Google+. It also has a toggle feature that allows you to turn it off and on. Turning it off allows you to search the “old school” way, returning public results from across the web.

So, what do you say?
Do you like the idea of social searches? Is this the game changer Google has been waiting for to thrust them ahead of Facebook? How will this impact Facebook?
Tell us what you think!

Deana Coan is a communications major at Tarleton State University and an intern on the Social Media Committee of the Texas Social Media Research Institute.  You can follow her on Twitter as @DeanaCoan.

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