How To Avoid Google Plus Social Search Results

Google.com search users may not all have noticed it yet but Google is currently rolling out its new Google+ social features on web search results.

Google+ Social Features – Whenever you search google.com, Google will display social results from only the Google+ network – instead of returning the most relevant results from across the web.

An example would be if you search for ‘Facebook’ – it displays a link to Mark Zuckenberg’s Google+ profile (which is empty) instead of his Facebook account (which, unsurprisingly, is comprehensive and up to date). In total, Google+ social results will be displayed in 3 places:

  • The ‘People and Pages’ box
  • The ‘Organic’ Search results
  • The Results ‘Typeahead’

The search outcomes change with each option e.g. social network links that Google actually deem most relevant, regardless of whether they are from Facebook, Twitter or Google+ etc. Two ways to avoid these (often useless) Google Plus social search results are:

1. The easiest way is to use a different search engine (with better privacy features) like Startpage (which I reviewed here). Startpage is a search engine that acts as a middle man between you and Google. You still get Google’s search results but Google don’t get your details – and Startpage doesn’t store them. A by-product of Startpage is that you don’t get any social search results in the 3 places listed above which, in my opinion, is a good thing as it makes them more focused. However, if you still want to see social search results but want them to be the best results from all networks (not just Google+) then consider the next option:

2. FocusOnTheUser.eu is a site created by engineers from Facebook and Twitter etc who have built an extension for Chrome that “look at the three places where Google only show Google+ results and then automatically searches Google to see if Google finds a result more relevant than Google+”.

The Chrome extension is available here.

Their video below illustrates the problems caused by displaying only Google+ social search data:

Conclusion

Google’s use of only their own Google+ social search means that you may now receive search data that are not actually the best for your query – this appears to go against the whole ethos that has made Google the world’s leading search engine by skewing the results in favor of their own product.

Startpage offers an excellent alternative with enhanced privacy features whilst the tools from FocusOnTheUser enable you to keep using Google but get more relevant (non-Google+ specific) social network results from your searches.