Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why Google's new search is better than Bing

J.C. Kendall recently shared something from Sarah Kessler at Mashable. Kessler is convinced that Google's social search (Google Search plus Your World) is, in Mashable's words, "Too Much, Too Soon."

Excerpt from Kessler:

Social search results, for instance, often push more relevant non-Google+ results almost halfway down the page. When I search “Justin Bieber,” I see his official page, images from my network, three comments from my Google+ circles, and only then do I get to his Twitter page. He has 16 million followers on Twitter and posts frequently....

I don’t have a problem with Google showing me what friends have said about a topic on its network or asking me if I want to update my Google+ profile. But I do have a problem with those results being so prominent that they make it harder for me to find the other information I’m looking for....

It’s true that people who don’t want social results can simply hit a toggle switch to return to Google as they knew it last week (in my example above, this would make Justin Bieber’s Twitter page the fifth result), but it doesn’t make sense to me why social results can’t be incorporated less intrusively.

In Kessler's text above, notice that she is looking for information that is "more relevant."

What is relevance?

If you listen to Twitter (DISCLOSURE: Twitter is a competitor of Google) or Mashable (DISCLOSURE: Mashable needs contentious stories to get eyeballs to read its stuff), then the fact that Justin Bieber's Twitter site has 16 million followers makes it, in Kessler's words, "more relevant." And if you go to Bing search, that's what you're going to get.

But is that the true mark of relevance for everyone?

As a test, I tried a Google for Bieber. As you can see from the circled item in the upper right corner, I left my social search results on.

As you can see from the image, a Google+ comment from Loren Feldman figures prominently in my search results. In fact, it figures more prominently than Bieber's Twitter account, my Google+ comments on Bieber, Perez Hilton's comments on Bieber, that wiki page from the people that are always asking for money, and almost every Bieber page except for Bieber's own.

And guess what? I'm OK with that. In my case, I value Feldman's item, or Steven Hodson's comment on the item, more than anything that Perez Hilton would have to say - or anything on Bieber's Twitter page.

And if I didn't, I could very easily go to the upper right corner of the page and click a single button and see what The Powers That Be want me to see.

Google gives me the choice. Bing doesn't.

Oh, but Bing does.

I was logged into Facebook when I performed this Bing search, and Bing used this information to inform me that one of my Facebook friends, Josette Lewis, likes Justin Bieber.

I'll grant that this isn't a reordering of the results, but this integration of Facebook information into the Bing search results does, in the eyes of some, "interfere" with the results page in a minor way. Results get pushed down the page just so I can be informed about what one of my Facebook friends thinks - despite the fact that most of you don't care what Lewis thinks.

But I do.

And again, if I don't care what Lewis thinks, I can take a simple step to exclude that information from my Bing search results.

Of course, Bing doesn't go as far as Google does. If I want to know what my Facebook friends are saying about Bieber, Bing can't tell me. Bing's loss.

Let's face it - in some cases, social search IS "relevant." I'm happy that Google is giving me the option of getting this information.
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