Google has a distinct advantage that other companies on the web do not have. Google Search at the time of writing controls more than 50% of all search on the web, which can go up in some countries to more than 90%. Google uses this to their advantage by promoting their own services in search. And while nearly every other company would certainly do the same if they were in Google's position, it is quickly turning the company's image of being an impartial search provider upside down.
Depending on the terms you search for, you may end up with results from YouTube, Google News, Google+, Google Images or other products that Google has hard coded into the search results. That's fine if those results are relevant to the search term. More often than not though, they are not.
Engineers from Facebook, Twitter and other social networking companies have now released a Don't Be Evil bookmarklet and browser extension to make Google's search results more impartial and relevant at the same time.
Once you have dragged the bookmarklet to your bookmark bar or bookmarks folder you can run it whenever you have performed a Google search.
Below are two screenshots. The first is a copy of a standard search for AT&T on Google, the second how the page looks like once you have run the bookmarklet.
The bookmarklet has replaced the Google+ listing with the more relevant Twitter account listing. We need to look at how relevancy is computed to make sure that it does not just favor other social networking sites over Google. According to the developers, their tool checks Google Search for the term to select the first social networking listing in the standard results as the most relevant term. Standard result means a page that Google has not hardcoded into the search results.
The bookmarklet will also analyze people and pages results on the right side with relevant results
and the suggestions when you start typing a name into the search form.
It is interesting to note that the bookmarklet enables the feature for the session, and not only for the current page that you are on. Results are automatically adjusted if you use Google Search functionality on the same page again.
Is this making the search results on Google more relevant? The answer should be yes if you look at a pool of users. When it comes down to the individual user, it depends solely on that user's preference. Some users do not want to see social signals in the results at all, others may be using Google+ exclusively or a mixture of services. Users should not turn this into a Google vs Facebook vs Twitter vs Whatever fight. Instead, they should look at what they want their search results to be and voice that opinion loud and clear.
How they do that? By switching to another search engine for instance if they feel that Google Search has deteriorated in the past year. If users flock to other search engines, then Google may be willing to reanalyze their latest strategies and may return to impartial search results.
The developers have created a browser extension for Google Chrome that automates the process. You can download it only directly from the Focus on the user website.
Here is a video demonstration of the bookmarklet.
Keep in mind that while not officially released by Facebook or Twitter, it still has their stamp all over it. I suggest you read Giga Om's comment on this.
What's your take on this? Voice your opinion in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.