Google’s Problem: Relevance

MG Siegler on Google’s promotion of Google Plus pages in web search results:

I’m going to go ahead and make a prediction: this does not end well for Google. I’m not saying Google falls as a result of this mistake — that would be foolish, they’re too big to fail anytime soon — but I do think that over an extended period of time, whether users consciously realize it or not, they’ll start looking elsewhere for their information needs because Google has strayed from their foundation.

It’s a philosophical line they never should’ve crossed. What made Google Google is that their web search results were better than anyone else’s, and were ordered simply by their best guess as to relevancy. Even when they introduced ads, they did it in a way that was true to the same spirit: the ads most relevant to the search terms. They profit handsomely and deservedly from this.

I think their decision to artificially promote Google Plus pages above more relevant pages on competing social networks is the modern-day equivalent of the ’90s era search engines turning their homepages into “portals”. A search engine should be designed to send users quickly and accurately away to whatever sites on the Internet they’re looking for. The ’90s-era search engine portals blew this, because the whole portal idea was to keep users on their sites rather than send them away. This Google Plus integration is the same thing — an attempt to keep users on for another page view or two.

Monday, 23 January 2012