Having already eclipsed the 10,000,000 user mark (including more than 2 million in the past 32-34 hours) – it’s clear that Google+ has more consumer support and interest than projects like Wave, Orkut and Knol.
With an incredible start out of the gate my mind has continued to race with thoughts as to how Google could innovate social experiences online through Google+.
The late Dr. Carl Sagan once said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
In the spirit of this quote I would like to present a case for how Google+ could use something successful from their past to improve upon the Google+ experience… Search modifiers.
The Background on Modifiers
Years ago when search modifiers were introduced on Google, they were primarily used by marketers and webmasters trying to perform research and analysis. Over time, savvy searchers also began using modifiers to shape the SERPs and find what they were looking for more quickly.
In no time at all, search modifiers were being used to do a number of things, including:
- Locate Top Pieces of Content on Domains
- Research Changes in Domain and URL Records
- Check Indexing Status on Content
- Locate Backlinks & New Link Opportunities
- Find Duplicate Content and Plagiarism with the Plagiarism Checker
- Search for Specific Phrases & Strings
- Exclude Keywords/Phrases from Results
- Hone in on Domain Types (.gov, .edu, etc.)
- Search for Specific File Types (PDF, DOC, Images, etc.)
Over time, Google’s Advanced Search page adapted to fit these needs and now anyone has access to those modifiers with the help of Google’s interface.
As new users jump onboard with Google+ they may find that their streams are different than they’d expect. It’s not a direct clone of the Facebook “News Feed” contents and in many cases old content you’ve already seen can bubble back up to the top. This happens most frequently if you’ve chosen to follow people with larger numbers of followers like Zuckerberg, Page, Brin, Scoble, etc.
As an example, my connections on Google+ are predominantly from the search or social industry, so I see Danny Sullivan and Chris Brogan appearing most often in my Stream.
For the sake of this discussion the Stream in Google+ is our search result page. It’s great, it works, and it provides with access to the top pieces of content. It just doesn’t provide us with refinement opportunities – and I can see many cases where users will want that.
Examples of Stream Modifiers
Here are some examples of Stream modifiers that I can see being introduced:
I’m always amazed when Google products are lacking search functionality, so let’s start there. Streams are populated with all of your circles by default, so it’s easy to see what your connections are up to when you’re checking out the default Stream.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see what your users were saying about particular topics though? Using current headlines as an example, it would be great to search for these items across all of my circles to find and participate in discussions on certain topics:
- World Cup
- Hugh Hefner
- All Star Game
Having a simple search query box would be an excellent way to provide this to Google+ users.
Time & Date Filtering
Twitter is all the rage when news is breaking. Real time hash tags and trending topics allow users to see that something abnormal is happening and actively being discussed. Think about how many news items Twitter has made you aware of. From celebrity deaths to impending natural disasters, Twitter makes it easy for people to see what’s happening now.
Google+ doesn’t quite do that, but it’s not because Google doesn’t know how. Even logged out Google SERPs allow you to customize the date range of the results you view when you search on Google – so why not provide something similar in Google+ Streams?
Display Toggles for Update Type
When it comes to Streams, there are five types of things you can share:
- Text Updates
It would be great for Google+ to allow users to see all links shared in their Stream, all photos, videos, check-ins, etc.
Likewise, it’d be nice to filter out some of those updates to reduce the amount of noise when you’re trying to see what your friends and connections are up to.
The Users Interface
Here’s an example of what the Google+ interface could look like with integration of search and Stream modifiers:
What Stream Modifiers Would You Like to See?
Share your thoughts on what you’d like to see below in the comments.