• http://simon-searchmarketing.com/ Geoff Simon

    Great breakdown, i wasn’t so up to speed on the legalese angle, what I do know is if you want to own real estate on SERP pages you better get a G+ page, company page and get people to start interacting with your content on G+, it really is unfortunate that they are not giving other social outlets the same placement within their results. This really hurts the end user IMO, I would like to be able to choose what outlets I see, maybe something akin to the slider on Google news to personalize how much content from Google sites you want to see in their SERPS?

  • udeebsdev

    The reason it is not pulling facebook and twitter result is because they have not signed a deal with Google to use their data for search result. Its upto them on whether to have their data displayed. If you are not able to share your data to be searched then how can Google index it? This is not a bias that Google is favoring its own product. Google had indexed Twitters real time data until twitter themselves refused to renew the contract. Its a matter of politics, the same way Bing contracted with Facebook to display their data in search result. I hope you could mention this fact in your article too.

  • http://bstringy.blogspot.com/ Brian Stringfellow

    Good research. I approach searching with the expectation of SEO and marketing in mind. I wouldn’t expect google to act any differently. Imagine if it were Apple’s search engine and social network, or Microsoft’s or Facebook’s.

  • L.D.

    The whole “@wwe” example is a complete red herring. twitter was *never* the top (or even 2nd) result when searching for “@wwe” and in fact the results you see on google when you search for “@wwe” and “wwe” are virtually identical. All this shows is that google search does not yet place a special value to the “@” character. BIG WHOOP.

    Another good example, search “@dannysullivan” vs “dannysullivan”. Your twitter account is the first thing that shows up for BOTH searches. I wonder why.

    People need to stop cherrypicking examples to try to prove their point. For example, heres a post that shows the value in the changes Google made: http://thesash.me/how-google-got-its-groove-back

  • http://marketingbuzz.info Andrey Solovey

    I wonder if this new search was the reason why they moved the PPC ads to the bottom of the page…

  • http://highwick.com Nick Braak

    A detailed (no surprise) and well-illustrated piece that lays out the sheer horror and the possibilities.

    Putting on my BlackHat I’m already starting to wonder how this is going to be gamed and exploited. Yea, G. has a plan for that, but I predict a riot. A G+ whack-a-mole riot.

  • http://www.daleysongs.com/ Dale

    udeebsdev: There is plenty of content on Twitter that can be crawled without needing any special agreement with Twitter. Google themselves said it’s only links marked as rel=”nofollow” that they cannot crawl, and there are plenty of links on any given Twitter page that don’t have that relationship set. View source on a Twitter page to see for yourself.

    L.D.: The issue is that @ has become closely associated with Twitter, so when searching for @wwe, it is logical to assume that Twitter would be a high-ranking result. Not necessarily top, but it’s more likely that that specific string of text would be found on Twitter where it is visible in the text than Google+, where such user associations are hidden and automatically hyperlinked. Seriously, @ or + someone in a Google+ update and compare the rendered text to what is rendered when you @ someone on Twitter.

    People would have far less of an issue if Google were just open about what they are doing, instead of having Eric Schmidt deny, dodge and half-truth on the topic.

  • http://www.seoskeptic.com/ Aaron Bradley

    Your interesting and thorough analysis of this latest Google change raises a much broader question (and one I think is often glossed over in discussions of search and social): what is “relevancy?”

    For any given query there are any number of results that can be regarded as “relevant.” Popular and seemingly “important” resources, as determined by the link graph, are relevant insofar as determined by broad consensus (human beings in general). The Disney movie “Cars” at the top of the organic SERPs falls into this category: it is a broadly relevant result, whether or not it is specifically relevant to me (and boy is it not relevant to me:)>

    Results that themselves are a specific subset of results are relevant insofar as they as they are a good match for the query for that subset. The Google+ “Pages and People” results fall into that category (the Ferrari page being a good match for the still small subset of car Pages on Google+), as are results for verticals, which are themselves subsets (where, for example, one sees the “Cars” movie trailer at the top of the list for videos). In this sense I don’t think the Google+ results are irrelevant, but rather are relevant results for a small subset.

    Finally, there are results that are significant for me personally, relevant insofar as they relate to my interests and to the people with which I engage in discussion (a group of specific human beings, rather than human beings in particular). A relevant result for me there might be for me – as someone that lives in Vancouver, doesn’t own a car, and participates in discussions about the place of automobiles in society and the relative merits of car ownership, might be “Modo,” the name of my local car co-op. Currently that seems to be beyond the capabilities of current search technology, but it is a hypothetically relevant result.

    All of this to say that one may be presented with multiple search results, and the determination of whether or not they are relevant has to be considered in light of which relevance yardstick is employed in the measurement (or rather which yardsticks are employed in the measurement). So that I don’t “care” about Ferraris or the movie “Cars” doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not relevant, or even bad results, but that only I can determine which type of relevance is the most useful and meaningful for me. I certainly like the mix of relevance that I’m currently seeing on Google, though of course the usefulness and meaningfulness of those “social” results would be improved – as you say – if expanded to encompass all of social networks on which I participate.

    What I would be loathe to see is one sort of relevance pushing out the others. This is why I cringe somewhat when I hear people saying search will eventually be replaced by social recommendations. I love my friends, but I wouldn’t want to be deprived of the wisdom and insights some of the other seven billion people out there might have to offer.

  • http://j.mp/aeroe Marvin Bernal

    After replicating your scenario, logged out of Google+ AND in incognito does not bring up any music related results on Google+ relating to profiles and people.

    Your article is moot.

  • http://www.fangdigital.com Jeff Ferguson

    We should really question the relevance of any search engine that suggests Britney Spears for “music”… that’s not a dig, it’s that it’s too broad a term. I could understand Britney and Katy fighting it out (hold on… let me think on that some more… wait, sorry…) over a term like “pop music” where they belong, but “music” should pull up things about music theory, etc.

    I can see a lot of people get really pissed at this… you basically have to be in Google+ to be considered relevant. It’s not that Google favors big brands, just big brands that play their game.

    Although, I guess you could say the same about any business that does or does not claim their Google Places page, but this is a step up for sure.

  • popwall

    Awesome, awesome, awesome article. This isn’t new, of course. Its just that Twitter is making a stink of it. The same thing just happened in local search but the IYPs just rolled over and died because Google was driving them all their traffic in the first place, which makes it hard to take a stand. Google is so good at using ‘best for the user’ to eliminate their competition. I remember asking the CEO of Yelp on a panel when Places emerged if he understood that over time Google was going to eliminate most of the IYP industry through places coupled with algorithmic updates (updates tend to coincide with Google content hitting a critical mass that outpaces the update) His response was that it was a concern, but at that time Google was showing yelp on the search results page as a reference within the places results. Now where are they? Kicked off the results page and buried at the bottom of the places page. Decent article with fuzzy screenshots at http://webstigma.com/blog/the-history-of-google-local/. Google has this model down – aggregate other publisher content because its good for users. Launch their own property/channel within that sector. Let users start uploading products, reviews, business information, etc directly into Google – and once they hit a critical mass, choke off the same people who they used to populate their properties by inserting google results into universal search and making algorithmic updates. They did the same with affiliates (awesome recent infograph by Aaron Wall). Its a nasty, brilliant model. Maybe travel is next? Feels like a page out of Standard Oil :) Thanks Danny!

  • http://www.twitter.com/iashishpsingh Ashish Pratap Singh

    where all the commitments to provide relevant results are gone now?

  • Matt McGee

    Aaron, I’m not even sure “relevant” is the right word. It’s not even the word that Google uses to apply to its best results.

    In the Google Rater Guidelines, “relevant” is defined as “A page that is helpful for many or some users.” But there are two classes of results that are above it:

    Useful: “A page that is very helpful for most users.”

    Vital: this one has a special definition and an entire section written about it. The essence seems to be this:

    The Vital rating is used for these very special situations:
    1) The dominant interpretation of the query is navigation, and the landing page is the target of the navigation query.
    2) The dominant interpretation of the query is an entity (such as a person, place, business, restaurant, product, company, organization, etc.), and the landing page is the official webpage associated with that entity.
    In both cases, the query must have a dominant interpretation. If there is no dominant interpretation, it is not possible to assign a Vital rating.
    Most Vital pages are very helpful. Please note that this is not a requirement for a rating of Vital, however. Some Vital pages are “official”, but not very helpful.

    You could argue, and I think I would, that someone beginning a query with the @ symbol is doing a navigational search for a Twitter account. So, the @WWE page would be vital to that query. And, if you agree that it’s a navigational query, then the WWE’s Google+ page might be seen as “relevant” but it’s probably doesn’t ascend to “useful.”

    All of which, I think, is to say that “relevant” is merely in the middle of Google’s own grading system of search results and Google’s own definition allows for a lot of pages to be relevant to any query (i.e., “many or some users”).

  • http://maindevice.com Radu Tyrsina

    Thanks for the protracted post, Danny. I think the future (not ) the present of a google search is already doomed. do check out this http://www.maindevice.com/2011/12/15/the-future-of-a-google-search-result-cluttered-with-advertising-and-googles-own-products/

  • http://www.seoconsult.com RoryT11

    Hi all – I just had a questiong regarding the issue of Google’s shameless promotion of G+ over the other social networks.

    The issue seems to be that Facebook and Twitter won’t let Google crawl and index them, but I wanted to ask, to what extent can Bing, for example, crawl and index public Google+ profile information.

    I can search on Bing for ‘H&M’, and while their Facebook profile is the 5th organic result, their Google+ profile is only listed on the second page. This is despite Google+ being built on excellent SEO principles (as this SEO Moz post illustrates http://www.seomoz.org/blog/google-plus-seo), and probably worthy of outranking some sites that come before it. This indicates to me that while Bing can crawl and index G+ profiles, it might be suggested that they are favouring Facebook, because of the deal they have?

    I just want to make clear, I’m really only trying to play devils advocate here, as I really do agree with the point Danny is making in the article. However, I’d still love to hear what you guys think about the question/thought I posed above!

    P.S. I’m a first time poster and still relatively new to SEO, so if my comment is naive/ignorant/just completely wrong, please forgive me and I’ll try and take any abuse I receive on the chin! :)

  • https://plus.google.com/113064402350615967581/about Stephen Cropp

    Seriously, enough already. Get over it and move on. So far the *only* people I have seen kick up such a huge fuss are the tech bloggers, those with a vested interest in causing trouble (such as Twitter staff) and people that generally hate Google for one reason or another.

    Pretty much every normal person I have spoken to that knows about the whole issue simply says its cool, they’ve found it useful and it enhances their search results in a new and interesting way. It doesn’t make the normal results vanish and those that don’t like it quickly found how to turn it off.

    Danny, you and MG especially need to get over this pathological issue you have. Seems like *EVERY* time Google changes their Search product you flip out about it. Could that possibly be because your entire business relies on knowing Google Search and how to manipulate it in one way or another?

    Google has made the change. Most people like the change. It works well for most people and people that don’t like it aren’t stupid and are able to figure out how to turn it off. Stop making out like the world is about to end and Twitter will die tomorrow because Google decided to make changes to their own website properties to benefit their own website properties.

  • http://fjpoblam fjpoblam

    Google keeps saying something like “another search engine is just a click away.” Seems to me, the only and most persuasive force in this sort of practice is going to be when folks start clicking away. It *has* to happen. Put them out of business.

    (Folks seem wont to vote for independents instead of Democrats/Republicans when both the Republican/Democrat candidates are fools. Can we not therefore say we deserve what we get by failure to act when we can act? Someone has to take the first step.)

  • http://www.bluelynxmarketing.com Kevin Alvarez

    This comment may be off topic but it’s still relevant. I don’t think any of these “artists” are relevant to the term “music”. None of them are musicians, they’re pop icons. When I think of music, I think of bands that actually play instruments and sing without “auto-tune”.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com Jenny Halasz

    The first search I tried on G+World was “disney world vacation”. I was pretending that I was about to take a Disney vacation and wanted to see what friends had to say about it. The personalized results were not at all relevant. I was given results from Liana Evans sharing pages on G+ (and she isn’t in my circles – although I should add her!), an article Graywolf wrote about autogenerated text where he used “disney vacation” as an example keyword, and then just listings of other G+ shares where people mentioned the word “world”.

    Much more relevant would have been my many mommy friends on FB, who have recently taken their kids there and posted about their experiences, or my many twitter friends who have uploaded pics of their time in Disney.

    Very disappointed with the quality of this result!

  • Andrea Still Gray

    I think there’s some real value in receiving a curated experience, and it’s clear that Google has decided to mine the trend. What will be interesting to watch is how other players such as Twitter continue to react and adapt. Check out: http://www.jpa.com/blog/2012/01/google-names-new-editor.

  • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

    Google’s goal IS NOT RELEVANCY and hasn’t been for a very long time – maybe ever. Google’s goal is to decide what we see – and don’t see – and to favor themselves, Big Brands, and those who agree with what George Carlin refers to as “the real owners” want us to see. Anyone that does not realize this in the face of this latest change on top of all the previous changes is in denial and can go back to sleep now.

    I write about the dangers of Google’s monopoly regularly, so if anyone wants to see the proof and reference materials I have compiled they can pop into my blog and go to the Google category. I hope all people whose brains still function will do just that – and then say hello, too.

  • http://blog.rohandsa.com Doomoo

    Conspiracy theory: Google wants search access to Facebook. All that content, relationships, search gold locked away from them. What they call the ‘alternative web’.

    And it’s using its biggest strength – search – to hammer its way into the alternative web so that Facebook gives in and says, ‘We give up, search us’.

    Going to happen? Guess not. But I think Google knows that as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ody.mbegbu Ody Mbegbu

    Im really starting to think that most of these Tech Bloggers are paid to decieve or more acurately brain-wash the general public.

    Read this post and I was amazed at how biased an article could be!

    First of all, Bing did the almost the same with Facebook and no-one said a word!

    Secondly, Google gave you an easy way to switch it off yet you are still pissed. If it were Facebook, they wouldnt care if you wantd it or not (Remember Ticker?!)

    And most importantly, Your content on Facebook that isnt shared as Public is PRIVATE and cannot be indexed by Google even if they wanted to.

    Call me whatever you want, but this physcing is pretty darn obvious

  • http://www.maxminzer.com maxminzer

    Ok, I respect you Danny but this article and “data” sucks.
    Logging out from your Google account is not enough to get rid of personalized search. You, as an expert, should know better.
    You must have read too much about Britney last week or something.

    I don’t get results you get AT ALL (and I am in US as well).
    Twitter is #3 in search results. Facebook pages comes up before Google+ in my search.

    Social is a normal part of the search. It was for many years now. I don’t see Goolge+ standout more than it should in non-personalized search (which yours isn’t).

    Your article is a biased opinion without credible solid data present and just intends to scare the public.

  • http://www.studio21.in Sumant Dubey

    Though Google, as a search engine, is supposed to bring up unbiased, relevant results, yet.. displaying more information in a separate ‘plus’ section should be okay.. as much as displaying sponsored ads is okay. However, if the impact is on the main stream search results, like for you tube etc, then Google definitely needs to check that out. Somehow I still feel, Google would not do that (anything wrong) to the main stream search results.

  • Manoj

    With regard to the antitrust cries in the media about not incorporating facebook’s and twitter’s pages in search results: Google really is handcuffed by the terms of agreement of these two services which may be restricting Google from indexing their pages. But such is the obsessive onslaught of the media that Google is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

  • http://www.yadzooks.com/home_inspectors/mississippi_ms/profile/Gary_Smith Gary Smith

    I’m not surprised. My search on Bing is “Totally Different” than my search on “Google”. Google+ favored + pages and Bing favored FB pages. Twitter? Well, they don’t have a search engine…do they?

  • http://www.hallofrumors.com Andrew Neal

    Bud, I cannot understand why you make this a big deal. But, I do know that it concerns you cause you are paid to do it. Honestly, I’m gonna have to break the news to you. Did you take Journalism in either high school or college? Well, I did. Unfortunately, you aren’t even a real journalist. You are more of the editorial type. Don’t give these people false crap and lead toward one side! That’s not the ethics of journalism.

    I’ve done a lot of research behind all of it and Google has not broken any law, anti-trust act. Yet, you probably don’t know how to figure something as easy it is to use. Did you at least watch the video? This is ridiculous.

  • http://www.quora.com/Anil-Kapoor-1 Anil Kapoor

    Its clearly mentioned over the top(RHS) “People & pages on Google+” then how can you expect a FB profile, or a Twitter account showing up in there?

  • http://searchenginewatch.com/author/1907/angie-schottmuller Angie Schottmuller

    Ugh. Seeing more examples just makes me ill. Does the Google hippocracy know no bounds? What’s worse is that this G+ bias has SEOs focusing more and more on how to please search engines (black hat) instead of users (white hat). I refuse to fall to the dark side. Hang in there SEOs. Regular social-related algorithm changes seem to be on the horizon. Stay strong to strategy that truly proves authority – diverse/unique content, relevant digital assets, authorship, reviews, UGC photos… indexable by loads of microdata. There’s enough new technology out there to keep SEs busy this year.

    The way things are going, do you think Bing may see a better year than predicted?

  • http://thesearchguy.com/ Jason Cook

    I get where they are trying to go…and I, for one, am not totally opposed tot he concept of deeper social signals in my search results. After all, if I’m truly friends with or respect the opinions of these people, then I’m probably interested in what content they enjoy on a specific subject. However, the example of how Zuck’s non-active Google+ profile was being promoted for a search on Facebook was disheartening.

    I decided to take that example and cross reference it with Amit Singhal’s 23 Panda questions (http://thesearchguy.com/blog/search-and-social/google-search-plus-your-world-23-panda-questions). I tried to give Google the benefit of the doubt, but there’s just no way that page passes muster.

  • http://twitter.com/0_inspiration Max Steiner

    Love reading all the simpering responses from the slimey Google fan boys and apologists.
    A company with a monopoly on search is rigging the results and favoring its own branded products in place of more relevant products – but it’s ok because only techy people care about it?!?!?

    Yeah great logic  guys, you’ve totally convinced me!

    I don’t even know anyone on Google+, it’s a failed social media site and the only reason anyone would use it is for the unfair advantage google provides its users in search results.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johan.fb Johan Du Toit

    You’re obviously on your localized version of Google.co.*. This article holds for Google.com only at the moment, as Google rolls out new features there first and then filters it through to localized versions.

  • http://www.ydeveloper.com/e-smart-ecommerce-suite.html eCommerce

    I am really laughing on the G+ of Mark has been shown rather than it’s FB page, as there is nothing in his G+ page. This means you do not need to have engagement in your G+, just create it, and get it indexed.

  • Víctor Hugo Benítez

    This article is crap, in all my results I never got what you are claiming. A search for Mark Suc… shows facebook as 3d after news and wikipedia. You don’t even bother to make a reference to the deal between Bing and FB or their talks with Twitter.

  • Matt McGee

    Victor, you don’t see what this article talks about because Google has again changed ho it displays search results. The “People and Pages on Google+” box that’s talked about above is now gone, replaced by Knowledge Graph boxes. We discuss that in this article: