File Under: search, Web Services

Hack Swaps Google’s Search Plus Your World Results for the Wider Social Web

Shortly after Google launched Search plus Your World earlier this month, critics accused the company of favoring its own nascent social network over the much richer results on others, like Twitter or Facebook. As Wired’s Steven Levy quipped, “there’s too much Plus and not enough of Our World, which has oodles of content on other social networks.”

Now developers at Twitter, Facebook and MySpace have put together a demonstration of just how much relevancy Google sacrifices in order to push Google+. The demo, which uses only Google’s own results, shows, among other questionable results, how Google routinely ignores more relevant Twitter pages to show off seldom-used Google+ profiles. To see it in action, head on over to the new Focus on the User website.

If you decide you prefer the often more relevant results from the Focus on the User experiment there’s a bookmarklet available, cheekily entitled “don’t be evil.” Just drag the bookmarklet into your web browser’s bookmarks bar and then click it whenever you want to see more than just Google+ results in Google’s search results.

The developers behind Focus on the User do work for Google+ rivals, but that doesn’t change the results of the experiment which speak for themselves. The developers also point out that their tool relies entirely on Google’s own data to rank social search results. Here’s their description of how the don’t be evil tool works:

the tool identifies the social profiles within the first ten pages of Google results (top 100 results). The ones Google ranks highest — whether they are from Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Quora, Tumblr, Foursquare, Crunchbase, FriendFeed, Stack Overflow, Github or Google+ — replace the previous results that could only be from Google+.

In other words the bookmarklet largely returns Google to its previous state, before the Search Plus Your World Update. If you’d like to know more about how the bookmarklet works or see some examples and situations in which the emphasis on Google+ social results actually degrades the quality of search results be sure to check out the video below.

Photo: Rene Tillmann/AP