Google Search Gets Personal; Should Facebook Be Scared?

Google has launched three new features that personalize its search engine in a radical way. It’s the biggest change to Google’s search engine since Google Instant. Google has fused Google Search with Google+ and Picasa to make results unique to the individualized. Clicking the person icon on the top right of the search page brings up these results. Say you’re researching for a trip to Thailand. Normally Google will serve you relevant web pages about the area of Thailand you are researching. However, if you click the person icon (Google calls it the “Search plus your world” icon), it will start bringing up Google+ posts about Thailand from your network, related photos from your friends, and pages/profiles related to that query. The changes also apply to searches for individuals. If I’m in your Circles, and you start typing my name, my profile will pop up. But the updated search engine will also pull up “prominent people on Google+”. This includes anybody who is a member of Google’s authorship program. Essentially, Google has merged its search engine with Google+ and Picasa search. If you’re prominently using Google+, you’re going to show up more often in search results, and that is a very powerful thing.

Should Facebook Be Scared?

Google has decided that, if it is to beat Facebook, it needed to use its most powerful weapon: its search engine. We knew this was Google’s plan all along, but Google really went all-in on this one. Will this take users away from Facebook though? I doubt it; there’s very little Google can do to beat Facebook’s entrenched network effect. Facebook is the repository and scrapbook for your entire life; Google+ simply isn’t as ubiquitous or useful. More people will sign up for Google+ and maybe even occasionally use it because they saw their friends appear in search results, but it won’t pry them away from Facebook. What this does, though, is set up Google+ as the alternative to Facebook, should the social network eventually shoot itself in the foot. If Facebook stumbles badly, Google is in the prime position to seize on the opportunity and siphon away users. Facebook’s real enemy isn’t Google; it’s Facebook. Google knows this, which is why the search giant is preparing for a massive user raid if and when Facebook slips up.
  • Anonymous

    Who uses Picasa? Really love the creative for the new feature, different from their talking head way of introing past products. Disagree this is related to or inspired by Facebook in anyway, looks like they are just trying to improve search.

  • Anonymous

    Will this be available for Google Apps users from launch, or another 6 month wait for anything current?

  • 40deuce

    When I first heard about the personal layer to search I was actually a bit worried, but it’s good to know that you can turn it on and off.
    When I go searching for something, half the time it’s because I don’t know anything about it and I don’t know who I can ask about it. If I got results that were just related to my other Google activities the search would have been quite useless to me (that’s how I envisioned it going anyways). 
    I wonder how many people will prefer the personalized search over a regular one? I wonder how many +1’s I’ll have to give things to SEO stuff I want my friends to see?


  • DanielDubya

    This is all fine & dandy, but waiting for your competitor to stumble isn’t really a business strategy. Google+ still faces the issue of getting people to use it who aren’t the typical power users. There just aren’t enough users or features, IMO, to make it a worthwhile for non-power users to switch. 

  • Shaad Hamid

    This is quite momentous; as you rightly point out, this has indeed been Google’s plan all along. However, I love their method of roll-out and the ability to turn it on and off fairly easily. Although Facebook need not worry about their users leaving FB anytime soon, if Google’s alternative appears to be more useful, I wouldn’t be surprised if the search giant could indeed surpass Facebook as they initially did with search.


    I have given this idea to Google last October. See my video: And here on GooglePlus: . And Site (Image Prototype):

  • Michael FitzGerald

    I think Facebook is already slipping up. Zuck said “The trick isn’t adding stuff, it’s taking away”… and he’s not living up to that statement.

  • Janes_llc

    It will take a long time for people to gravitate to something else from facebook.  I think there is a lot of possibility for that to happen over time, but I doubt it will be google that pushes facebook to a lower status on the food chain.  google is not intuitive at all, and you have to be very technical to figure out how to use it.  Nope! something will get in stride with facebook but not google.