An interesting blog on Econsultancy.com last month raised the issue of Google monitoring our search history and personalising search results based on patterns of previous searches and clicks.
This functionality is now turned on by default, recording your brand affinities and to a greater or lesser extent, shaping the results you are shown.
On the face of it, it looks like this means search is becoming more targeted and more relevant – which can only be a good thing for marketers and for users (and for a hard working SEO agency!)
But is this really the next step in precision targeting for search marketers?
Here’s where I’m coming from: If for example, I made a number of searches on Google using the term ‘Sony UK’ I might expect to see an array of results related to the Sony brand. So in this case I might want the personalisation to kick in and filter out the noise.
But what if I later searched on ‘laptops’? What Google might do in this case is show me a predominance of Sony laptop results, because I have visited the Sony site a certain number of times before.
If I’m looking to buy a laptop online, believe me I’m hunting for a bargain. I would want to see the widest possible choice of relevant online retailers and then search for the best price.
Buying a laptop direct from Sony is probably not what I want. Obviously this is a simplistic example but I think it illustrates a point.
When searching the web I often want to be exposed to a mix of results, the more varied the better – ones I might expect, but also results I wouldn’t expect at all.
Will personalized search mean that stumbling upon new and interesting sites while conducting a search becomes a thing of the past?
Will having customised or semi-tailored results means we are literally spoon-fed with information? If so, where might the line be drawn between useful customised results and blinkered results?
And how will this benefit either searchers or PPC advertisers looking to target fresh contacts?
Time will tell.