Every day of early 2012 seems to be a new chapter in the saga of Google’s social search  vs. the rest of the social media world. Here’s a summary of what’s happened in the last week or so:

Will Social Share make Plusers of us all?

Only a couple of weeks after controversy broke over Search Plus Your World, Google is pushing the concept of social sharing.

Here’s how it works in brief: search for a topic, then share the results on Google + without having to switch boxes. Other ‘Plusers’ see your post and can click on it to enter the search stream you have been browsing (without seeing your actions, of course). It’s definitely worth noting that Google Plus users now number over 90 million as of the 23rd of Januar y 2012. That’s certainly significant, doubling the 40 million figure from October of last year. Bear in mind that Facebook currently has about 800 million users. This membership spurt is probably due to Google Plus realising that it has to become more flexible: for example it now allows users to sign up under pseudonyms.

It’s worth noting that Google aren’t the first big engine to produce social results. Since June 2011 competitors Bing have been using their alliance with Facebook to produce search results that are influenced by the number of ‘likes’ received by content posted on the social media giant. To keep their results relevant, they will continue to be algorithm based. The two services are now so integrated that you can add a friend or send them a message through Bing’s search results.

A single Privacy Policy means more of your data is available to advertisers

Google Unified Privacy Policy

Without pausing to let us catch our breath, Google has also announced the unification of its privacy policies, planned to roll out March 1st. The new catch-all privacy policy will allow a user to transfer data from each Google product (Plus, Gmail, Youtube, etc) seamlessly.  By using all of the data from your activities on each of its platforms, Google will be able to come up with a highly personalised search for each individual. There is no ‘opt out.’ Either Google has access to all of your info or you cease to use its services.  

For advertisers, this is going to be very good news. Now there will be no restrictions on the amount of data you can use to create targeted ads.

Hey Google, Don’t Be Evil!

Meanwhile, a disgruntled alliance of developers from the reigning big three social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Myspace) are fighting back with a browser plug-in that goes by the name of ‘Don’t be Evil’ (a sly dig at one of Google’s unofficial founding mottos). This open source plug-in is a way of allowing users to compare SPYW and pure algorithm search modes.  Prominent SEO bloggers have already commented that Search Plus Your World is producing bugs in terms of search relevancy. 

Third-party workaround solutions like ‘Don’t Be Evil’ may be adopted widely among techies, but will they catch on with the non-techie users? It looks pretty certain that we have irreversibly moved away from search relevancy to social relevancy.  Among  other things, will the changes mean that PPC becomes even more powerful? We’re waiting to see how this plays out.