Google search: This time it's personal

Google search: This time it's personal

Summary: Google is now taking your Google+ relationships and information into consideration when you do searches. Here's how it works and how to use it.

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Welcome to the new personal Google Search

Welcome to the new personal Google Search

Well, we saw this coming. Google is integrating its social networking site, Google+ and its photo-sharing site Picasa with Google search. What this means is that in "Search, plus Your World" when you do a Google search your results will be personalized for you.

Specifically when you do a search you'll see:

1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts-both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;

2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you're close to or might be interested in following; and,

3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.

Not everyone can see this new search method yet. Google is still rolling it out.

You should also take note that these "personalized" search results only pays attention to your Google+ social circles. If you wanted results that reflected your Facebook friends and interests, you'll need to use Microsoft Bing. Other social networks, such as Twitter, aren't as closely integrated, and they are not happy about it. Indeed, you can expect to see a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of the Google-Google+ connection sometime soon

That's all interesting but what is this new style of search actually going to mean. For starters, it's not going to personalize your search results to reflect your previous searches. Google's been customizing search results for years now.

If that's news to you, here's how it works. Say, you often search for Windows and "Mary Jo Foley" and "Ed Bott," since they're your favorite Microsoft journalists. Now say one day you search for Windows and Metro, Windows 8's new interface. Chances are your Google search results will show up stories by one of those two writers even if you hadn't included their names.

What's different now is that when you're signed into Google+ and you do a search besides your usual results, you'll also get personalized results from your Google+ network of friends, family, and co-workers. The idea is that when you do a search you'll want the results that matter most to you. So, for example, with Google Instant on , which starts searching on it's best guess on what you're hunting for based on each character as you type it in, when I key in "Esther," my "personal" results are for my good friend and fellow writer Esther Schindler, starting with links related to her Google+ account.

Google Search Plus for a friend

Google Search Plus for a friend

This method of search is especially handy for finding your friends and what they're up to. One handy feature is that this kind of search brings up everything that your friends allow you, but not the world, to see. Say you did an ordinary search for a friend's new baby photos if they've placed them in a private circle, you won't be able to find them. But, if you're in their friends and family circle, you will be able to find them even though others won't be able to find or see them.

This isn't just for personal matters. Say you set up a Google+ circle for a project. With this new search method, you can not only share your notes and comments with each other, you can do a quick search to say who did write what a month ago.

But, while being able to search your Google+ social network is handy, this is more than just bringing search to a social network. Let's say I search for Mint, one of my favorite Linux distributions. Because Google knows me, it first shows me the site for Linux Mint instead of the Mint personal finance site. Google also now marks my personalized Search, plus your World results with a blue icon on the top left of the search result.

Google Search Plus for Mint Linux

Google Search Plus for Mint Linux

The also makes it easy for me to say what my Google Plus friends and colleagues think about a specific topic So, for example, when I look for Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) stories, I see my own printable words on this annoying proposed law and results from people in my Google+ circles. In this case, I've also set my search so I'll only see the results from my personal circles.

Google Search Plus for SOPA

Google Search Plus for SOPA

To flip between all and personal results, look at the right of the on page upper-left Search logo. There you'll see a toggle between personal and all results.

Let's say though that the last thing you want is to see personalized results. I'm not sure why you'd feel that way but I know some of you do. Anyway, the cure is easy: Since to even see the results in the first place you need to be logged into Google, just head to your Google Search Preferences page and hit the radio button for Personal results to "Do not use personal results" and you're done.

As for me, I'll be using Personal search from here on out as my default. I'm already finding it darn useful. If you're also already a Google+ user, I think you will too. If you're not in Google+ yet, well I think this new search style to be useful enough that I'd consider joining Google+, and getting my friends and family to join me there just for this feature alone in addition to all the many other good reasons to join Google+.

Related Stories:

Search bundling flap for Google's Google+ plugs heats up

Google upgrades personal search: Social silos persist

CNET: Google+ in search: Google had no choice

Google gets more personal with 'Search plus Your World'

Topics: Social Enterprise, Apps, Google

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23 comments
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  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    "personalized" my ass. "Maximized Targeted Advertising". Google is becoming one big ad machine. It's nearly impossible to find anything with google that wasn't paid for by someone to show up in your face.
    Sqrly
    • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

      @Sqrly <br>That explains why users are flocking to other well known search engines like Bing and Yahoo ... oh wait.
      anono
      • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

        @anono Soon a search engine will come along that is just a simple clean quick relavent search engine. Google used to have it but economics has forced it to stray from its original beliefs.
        Once the next good search engine comes along Google may very well go the way of Yahoo....a slow slide down the search engine ratings scale.
        global.philosopher
    • Don't forget:

      @Sqrly ... Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo a few years back for 44.6 Billion dollars. So if you think Microsoft isn't interested in targeted advertising, you are completely wrong.

      That's 491 tons of $100 bills worth of targeted advertising, snooping and using their OS and browsers to gather data.
      Joe.Smetona
      • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

        @Joe.Smetona What does that have to do with anything? The fact is they didn't, and Microsoft already has Bing. Yet they don't go to the pathetic lengths that Google goes to, this hit you with ads and to collect and sell your personal info for money.
        jhammackHTH
      • Yahoo would not sell., Bing is losing $1 Billion a quarter.

        @hth ... No one here or on the other blogs has given any description of how they were offended. I read the Google Privacy agreement and I don't have a problem with it. They scan Gmail for selected code words and supply relavent text ads. I have 68,000 emails in Gmail -- none have every been revealed or abused. I use Linux and it's source code is so secure you don't need to use AV. I've been using it for 10 years without AV. I don't want my data stored on Microsoft OS with Microsoft servers. Linux Mint site declares you can use it without AV, Can Microsoft do that on their website? My point, don't trash anyone, unless you have the personal experience to explain why you are doing it. No one here has provided that. Trashing Google without explanation is just propaganda.
        Joe.Smetona
    • Google is not the only search company doing this and MS has done far worse

      @Sqrly

      I stopped using MS search a long time ago when I discovered that MS was deliberately burying relevant search results that they didn't want me to see because they were for competing products. They have since changed, at least, the most blatant use of this search tampering but I will never trust MS search for anything unless I want to see MS results.

      Google is not the only search engine doing this. Personalized search is something, I think, most of the search engines are engaging in these days and while they are trying to help individuals find things personally relevant to their interests I think it is a bad idea. Being a consultant I have had to talk people through searching for the right link to a site by conducting the same search myself and telling them that the link was the third or fourth link from the top. There are some people who just can't seem to find Lavasoft's Ad-Aware without ending up on some imposter's site that wants to sell them a knockoff. Similarly I have been on client site or a friend's computer and conducted the same search I have conducted on my own and have maddeningly gotten different results, sometimes to the exclusion of what I was actually searching for. Once back on my own computer it pops right up in the top results.

      Having the ability to conduct a personally tailored search to assist you in finding what you are looking for is a nice option bu it should remain optional and not become the default search criteria. Google (and the others) should put such a feature in the sidebar along with the search news, images, shopping etc.

      Hopefully they will wise up and implement it in this manner but until then there is always Duck Duck Go as an alternative.
      techadmin.cc@...
  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    But what if you want to find results that are outside your usual frames of reference, instead of just your own personal little inner sanctum on the Googlweb?

    In return for providing you with free services, Google mines your life for their profit.
    bb_apptix
    • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

      @bb_apptix
      I usually don't put my life story in a search engine; only the term I'm searching for. And I would expect them to use that for advertising as the service it's free. Not a big deal to me since as I said, I don't put my life story in a search engine.
      anono
      • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

        @anono Only a matter of time before the Google personal data mining becomes distasteful to you. When it comes to personal data the threshold is personal. Some people don't care how much personal data is used, others don't want any. As Google's mining gets more abusive your threshold may be reached....just not as soon as others.
        global.philosopher
    • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

      Duplicate
      anono
  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    Google apologists unite!!!
    hopp64
    • I'm not trying to convert people to Google.

      @hopp64 ... If you don't use it, that's fine, but it's also your loss. Why hasn't anyone given examples of Google transgressions? That's the big mystery here. With ZDNet, you never know who is behind the anonymous screen name, It could be an author here, it could be Microsoft. If you are referring to them scanning your Gmail for keywords and providing relevant text ads, that's in their privacy statement.<br>I've been here 6 years and no one has ever provided personal experiences about Google problems. Don't you think that's a bit unfair? I say Microsoft is unfair, but I've been using their products from the beginning and have volumes of issues that I experienced personally.

      Having an anonymous screen name and making blanket accusations is cowardly and doesn't count for anything.
      Joe.Smetona
      • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

        @Joe.Smetona Everybody can see it but you and your fellow Google sycophants dumba$$. It's a proven fact that Google is an ad and data mining machine. That's where they make 90% of their income.
        jhammackHTH
      • Problem with Google is it's Microsoft's biggest enemy.

        Trying to blame Google for privacy infringement isn't correct. Statcounter is a tracking service that provides information on website visitors. Upon registration they provide code that is added to the HTML for the website and pages. This code instantly returns visitor information to the customers' Statcounter page. The information is available to anyone without restriction. Statcounter has dozens of ways of aggregating the data and creating charts and graphs from it. It gives the operating system used, screen resolution used, IP Address, search term typed in, country, link to search results page, duration of time and sequence spent on each page of the site, repetitive visits to the site and pages, etc. Anyone could use this information (over time) to create a profile on the user. Expecting total privacy using the internet is impossible, it will never happen. It's like expecting privacy on a post card. Accumulating this data creates aggregate information that can be used to provide targeted ads. Google is good enough and big enough to do this without invading your privacy.
        Joe.Smetona
  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    Apparently I do a good job of hiding my digital footprint. I tried googling myself one day and couldn't find a damn thing :(
    dtdono0
  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    I don't like SOPA, but I wouldn't want to know only the opinions of my anti-SOPA friends. That's a quick way to get the delusion that "everybody is with us!", and fail to present the case to people who need to grasp it.
    Already on issues like global warming, etc., too many people on all sides only hear voices from inside their chosen echo chamber. This trick will make it worse: it's a step toward NetNarrow (http://www.satirewire.com/news/0010/international.shtml) for each user's preferred narrowing.
    tim.poston@...
  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    Google just moved the bar futher in data mining. Anybody else see anything wrong with this?
    mailman30
  • RE: Google search: This time it's personal

    If I'm searching form the browser bar or the Google home page, I'M SEARCHING FOR THINGS NOT IN MY NETWORK.

    Apparently this little point has missed all of the geniuses at Google. If I want to search in Google+, I'll do it within Google+. If I'm not, it means I WANT OUTSIDE DATA.
    aep528
  • Reply to aep528. People using Facebook would probably find it useful.

    @aep528 ... Facebook appears to have real privacy issues and has to be carefully configured so your personal data can't be accessed. I can see it's usefulness and popularity, but it seems to me just like a handy combination of chat and email.<br><br>I think Facebook has a lot of value to advertisers, because the users constantly access it and it's a permanent fixture. Also, smartphones push things to a whole new level. <br><br>From what I've seen Google+ provides the circles method of segregating friends which seems useful and the group chat looks interesting. I don't have a need for it, but it looks like it's going to be a technical improvement over Facebook.<br><br>People using Facebook or Google+ don't want perfect privacy, they want limited privacy. But when that limited privacy is breached, it's a big problem. With Facebook, there seems to be a tendency to provide unrestricted privacy as a default for new users, which is bad.<br><br>This integration of search and personal search is switchable and the user has to be signed in. <br><br>In terms of network security, Google runs on 100% Linux and has over one million servers, which is a tremendous improvement over Microsoft. Microsoft does not have secure source code, so it will always need AV. It can never get away from it. So using Google/Linux products is a security decision for me. I've been using Linux for 10 years and never used AV and have never been infected. I think people here are confusing privacy with security. If you don't have security, you can't have privacy and Linux provides proven security, <br><br>Google and Android run on open source code which has to be secure because it's always available to anyone for free and it's the blueprint of the kernel and OS. I've downloaded the Android source code a couple of times, it's not useful on a regular computer, but the GNU/GPL license allows (those portions) to be modified and compiled and distributed for free. <br><br>I created several customized Open Suse Linux distro's with over 1,000 applications included with the install. Microsoft will never allow modification of any of it's products, that's a cardinal rule. Microsoft is in a very (surprisingly) desperate situation these last few years and is trying to play catch-up.<br><br>If you've never used Linux some of these statements may seem to be exaggerated, but in reality, not using AV is common with Linux and not getting infected is the norm also, with all users. If you use Google, you are taking advantage of this stability and security.

    I use iGoogle and have it configured with over 100 popular RSS Feeds. If you are signed in, your iGoogle page comes up instead of the standard Google search page, showing all of the selected RSS feeds. They constantly update and I've noticed featured items for sale offer deeper discounts than non-RSS media.<br><br>Security is the most important aspect. When an article is written here about Windows 8, there may be 400 or 500 posts and replies. Most likely, not even one will mention security, everyone is talking about features. That makes a person wonder about Windows 8 security given Microsofts' dismal security record with malware and botnets.
    Joe.Smetona