Google+: Destroying search results?

J. Rae Chipera
March 12, 2013 • 874 views
Filed under Voice

Google+ seems to be a sociological mistake overall, but there are a few features that make the social media platform worth using.

“Hangouts,” a way to chat face-to-face over a long distance using a webcam, is the single most useful feature on it. The Google Talk plugin helps create an experience that is truly superior to what can be obtained on any other site, including Skype.

“Hangouts” can be recorded and posted to YouTube using the “Hangouts on Air” function. A person can use “Hangouts” to communicate clearly and face-to-face with friends and family around the world.

However, the general glitches that plague Google+, as well as the perceived Google-promoted bullying that came along with the company’s creation of a social media platform clouds the appeal of “Hangouts.”

Google+ is likely to blame for the inorganic search results that now appear on the once-organic Google. Organic search results are what appear on a search engine because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to paid advertisements. Non-organic search results are pay-per-click advertising and other results that have little to do with the search terms.

Pam Dyer, a search engine optimization engineer and author of Panorama, is trying to convince entrepreneurs who were using social media to market their businesses to move to Google+. Because it has one feature that is changing the way that the internet functions, it is unknown yet whether this change is good or bad. It will likely be bad all around in the long run, but good for selected few in the short run.

This feature is the “suggested user list,” which intends on showing new users people who Google thinks will be interesting for them to follow.

It seems like a good idea in principle, but it is changing the search results in a way that affects entire industries. Not only are celebrities on the list, but also everyday people who Google finds “interesting,” and that’s what the problem is.

In some professions, such as photography, journalism, and art, the professionals have been seeing their search results fall below those of the people who have a hobby in the field, because of Google’s promotion of the amateurs over the professionals.

Google+ is giving away the equivalent of tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising to people who are promoted on the suggested list.

This has two side effects: people lose trust in the accuracy and relevance of Google Search, and the affected industries start to become extremely difficult to make money in, leading to a decrease in available professionals. Google is picking the people whose opinions it wants on the internet, and making sure those opinions are heard and everyone else is silenced.

Because Google owns so many other sites, including YouTube, people who are suggested on the Google+ list also see increased hits on their YouTube and other Google account pages, which promotes their best interest. It’s a seemingly-innocent business practice; but if the government did that, it would be seen as them seeking to control the internet.

Most of the receivers of this suggested user treatment obtain a new attitude along with their advertising, and cyberbullying has become an issue. Google’s suggested user list created a platform for Google-sanctioned bullying that is ultimately going to drive away the marketers, the advertisers, and the tech-aficionados because of the high school nature of how the people on the top seem to run the platform.

Suggesting that the same people get circled by everyone gains some people millions of followers, and it’s becoming a frequent problem. There are cases where people use their follower count to their advantage. Post an issue in front of several million people, and it automatically gets more attention than someone who only has a thousand people listening.

A suggested user will post something that makes someone else look horrible. They rally the troops against that person, causing a cyber-bullying case among adults. Google continues to promote these individuals, regardless.

Google needs to create a category that allows the reporting of individuals who engage in this bullying. Right now, such actions cannot be reported.

When people lose faith in Google and move elsewhere, Google will lose advertising revenue, a significant portion of its income.

Google+, the safe haven for people who dislike Facebook, has become like high school. The next step would be asking people to pay to post a status or have their updates seen by their entire following.

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