I know we have been talking about changes to Google+ quite a lot over the last few weeks, but the changes Google has made are pretty significant and deserve to be looked at closely. There are a few aspects of Google+ Search Plus Your World that we are going to examine in more detail.
As mentioned in previous posts, when you are logged into Google+, you now see not only conventional search results but personalized results as well. You will be able to get results based on items and data that have been shared with you through the Google+ social network. This includes information from Google+ posts and photos, as well as Google Picasa photos. This allows you to get search results that are potentially more relevant to what you are trying to find, and also allows Google to collect more information about you in order to better tailor advertising to you. These personal results are all things that you could have searched for on Google+ before, they are now simply integrated to your regular Google search.
One concern with Google Search Plus Your World is that people will now potentially be searching for even more private results than they previously did. This is the reason why Google decided to encrypt searches made from a secure connection when you are signed into your Google account. By encrypting searches, no one else can see what you are searching for and what sites you click on. Unless, of course, you are an advertiser. While website publishers used to receive referrer data from Google, telling them what searches were made before a customer clicked on their site link, with the new encryption service that was rolled out in October Google ceased to provide this data. Google advertisers, however, still have access to referrer data which has angered a number of publishers who rely on referrer data to ensure they can increase traffic to their sites.
One of the advantages for Google with the new search is that they can more heavily promote Google+. In addition to your new personalized results, Google offers you suggestions when you type in the search box. These suggestions are increasingly biased toward Google+, including Google+ profiles for your friends. This is handy when you are trying to find someone with a common name, since the first result will probably be the person you already have in your contact list. In addition to people you already know, Google+ is promoting other Google+ members, which may lead to your further integration into the Google+ social network. Also, along the right side of the search page, Google now offers you People and Page suggestions from Google+ based on your interests.
These changes are obviously all geared toward promoting Google+ and its social network over, say, Facebook or Twitter. As people become more accustomed to these changes, it will be interesting to see how Google+ will grow and whether other social networking sites will adapt to challenge the search engine. For more information, check out the article at Search Engine Land.