Google Search plus Your World – Tiny Needles in Mass Confusion Haystacks

I’m not a crystal ball kinda guy and don’t take much stock in predictions, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how Google plus Your World is going to be useful.

The wife and I recently bought a house and we’ve been making various purchases.  She’s been looking into furniture, and I’ve been researching ping pong tables and fire pits, among other man cavish goods.

I should state that these are clearly “informational” searches, as opposed to transactional (searching with the intent to purchase online) or navigational (searching for a specific site) searches. They are items that are typically researched online but often purchased at a physical location, as the cost is generally too high to make a commitment without first touching and feeling.

Here’s the rub: for social search to influence my informational purchases, friends of mine would have had to +1 a search result, or share a “ping pong” related item through Blogger, Yelp, Google+, or whatever else Google is allowing in its results.

Nobody I know has +1′d a “ping pong table” product on the Internet.  And why would they?  If they researched online but went to the store to buy it, they’d then have to go back online and find the search result again to +1 it. That’s simply not going to happen 99% of the time.

The “personal results,” meanwhile, give me a post from a guy who shared that he was eating his lunch on a ping pong table (and I had to scroll down his Google+ page to find it), an article about Tiger Woods taking on gold-medalist Liu Xiang in ping pong, and an article about the aerodynamics of a ping pong ball.  There are many more, none of them relevant to the purpose of my search.

Again, I realize that this isn’t the only type of search regularly performed.  You could argue that there are several sub-sets of informational searches, like looking for movie reviews and finding recipes.  A quick “The Descendents” search, for which George Clooney just won a Golden Globe for best actor, yielded nothing in the personal results. “Recipes” revealed several Google+ posts from Google advocate Denis Labelle, including a post that says “Google+ is the future of social search.” Strangely, I couldn’t find the post with the word recipes in it. Again, no +1s by any of my social connections.

Navigational.  Well, if I want go to YouTube and don’t think to type in youtube.com, I could search “youtube” and get there that way. Or I could just search “video.” Wait a second, there are some useful results here!  Some videos shared by the three people I know who actually use Google+—excellent!

Yep, no Facebook results, no Twitter results (yet). Google is saying it’s Twitter and Facebook’s fault they aren’t in there, but they seem to be missing the crucial point that they would be more relevant with them included, considering all the additional and relevant content it could serve (isn’t the whole idea of a search engine to organize relevant web pages?). As of now, there are simply too many search queries, too many search results, too many people who don’t know anything about the +1 button, and too many people who don’t get Google+.

Google has a massive task of educating the world about how this works, and right now it’s not easy to find any kind of value or reward.

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