I just switched the default search engine in my browser from Google to Bing. And if you care about working efficiently, or getting the right results when you search, then maybe you should too. Don't laugh!
Google changed the way search works this week. It deeply integrated Google+ into search results. It's ostensibly meant to deliver more personalised results, but it pulls those personalised results largely from Google services -- Google+, Picasa, YouTube. Search for a restaurant and the top result might be someone you know discussing it on Google+ instead of the restaurant's website. Over at SearchEngineland, Danny Sullivan has compiled a series of damning examples of the ways Google's new interface promotes Google+ over relevancy. Long story short: It's a huge step backwards.
A lot of people are crying foul, and even "anti-trust". Sure, it does seem pretty transparently designed to drive traffic and users to Google+, and to make Google+ brand pages the go-to place for a company's social media presence. And it's true that results from Facebook and Twitter in particular have been noticeably kicked down.
But I didn't switch for political reasons, or as an act of protest. I don't care if Google hurts Twitter or Facebook -- or even Friendster for that matter. Boo-hoo. I only care if it hurts me. And this does. Google broke itself.
For years, Google Search has been the highest quality web product I've ever used. It has remained consistently essential as an information-delivery mechanism. I typically hit it hundreds of times a day -- on my phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. But with one update it wiped out all those years of loyalty and goodwill it had built up. Sure, I can opt out of social results with a click -- but as with all things I don't want to have to opt out. I don't want to have to make that extra click. I want to enter a query and have the most relevant results returned to me as quickly as possible. (And if Google genuinely doesn't think it's a big deal for people to take the extra step of opting out, why has it focused so relentlessly on optimising speed for so many years?)
The great thing is, of course, you can just switch. Hit up your browser preferences and swap your default to Bing. I know, I know, but yes I'm serious. Sure, Bing had a rocky start. But if you haven't seen it recently it's worth another look. It has a super clean interface. It's fast. And operators work the way you expect them to. Best of all it's relevant.
In short, it's a lot like Google. Not the Google of today, but the Google you fell in love with, the one that put your search results about its financial ones. The Google that delivered.