Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Apocalyptic View of the New Prominence of Google Profiles...

Why is it that as good as Google is at listing relevant search results for things, they are equally bad at listing them for people?

I've gone off on this rant before. Basically, I'm paranoid about the fact that my professional livelihood is dependent on whichever websites Google decides to display as results when someone searches for my name. I spend far too much time learning the tricks of "Search Engine Optimization". As a result of my hard-won efforts, if you Google "Rob Domanski", the first three pages of results are all, what I consider to be, professionally acceptable.

However, as Mashable explains, today Google introduced a new feature that makes it so that, when someone searches for your name, it will display your Google Profile at the top of the results. They claim this gives users "more control" over their results by making their social-networking profiles highly prominent and immediately accessible to anybody searching for them.

So why am I so nervous?

Maybe it's because I don't want the entire planet to so easily find my social-networking profiles. Granted, they can be found in the traditional list of results anyway, but is it really necessary to list them first? Personally, when someone Googles my name, I'd rather have them find my professional website or even this blog before they are directed straight to my Facebook page. Under the old system, I've spent the past few years (!) learning how to make that happen. Now, the norm is going to shift from under my feet.

Perhaps I'm overly apocalyptical about all of this. It's true that even once you create your Google Profile you still have to "opt-in" to the enhanced search feature, so nothing will happen without your consent. However, I'm still fearful that in Google's quest to elbow their way into the social-networking market, they are sacrificing what's in the best interests of the individual. And as much as I want to control the search results listed under my name, I nevertheless hesitate to use my personal information and profiles in order to achieve that.

So thanks, Google, but I'll pass.


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