Google’s announcement that its search results would now prominently feature social content from Google+ raised concerns from around the web. But those within Google must feel that Search+ is in the best interest of users. Right?
After all, the first “core principle” Google lists in its 10-point “Our philosophy” page is:
- “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
“Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.”
So what’s the word from the Googleplex?
Turns out, even some high-ranking Google executives are on the fence about the value of social search. As recently as this time last year. Business Insider astutely points out a January 2011 quote from Google’s number two search exec, Amit Singhal (yes, he of “biggest kingmaker on this Earth” fame), in Bloomberg Businessweek:
“[Amit] seems skeptical about whether social data can make search results significantly more relevant. If he’s searching for a new kind of dishwasher, he argues, his friend’s recommendations are interesting, but the cumulative opinion of experts manifested in search results is much more valuable. He notes that Google already integrates content from Twitter and says social networking data is easily manipulated. Can social context make search more relevant? ‘Maybe, maybe not. Social is just one signal. It’s a tiny signal,’ he says.”
Now, taking up all the top space with potentially irrelevant results cannot possibly be in users’ best interest, what is the “biggest kingmaker on this Earth” up to?
Google’s motives, it seems, are quite clear to the numerous experts and industry observers who have expressed concerns that Google may be putting its own interests (advertising profits) ahead of the interests of users.