Monday, January 18, 2010

An Opinion on Personalized Search

Google announced Personalized Searches for everyone on their official blog on the 4th of December. What does this mean for web searching? At first it sounds pretty awesome for all your searching needs, but will it actually be awesome when it’s fully implemented? This reminds me of the suggested search function from Amazon when you’re looking for items on the site. Unfortunately more often than not it will come up with items that are not what I’m looking for or worse yet, items I’ve been warned against for being inferior or bad products. Now if that doesn’t work for Amazon, how will this work for web searching? I can’t honestly see it working well because it will start filtering things I might be looking for but can’t find the perfect search words.

On the other hand this could come in handy for SEO sites like FindYourSearch, because if I’m looking for say, “New York Style Pizza” and Google already knows that I look for businesses in the San Diego area they might just show me results in my area. This sounds cool as less keywords are needed to find what I’m looking for but “New York style pizza in San Diego” isn’t that much longer. This sounds more like a tool that will benefit the lazy more than really save the average user much time.

All Google needs according to their help page on Personalized Search: Basics is the use of an anonymous cookie that will keep your search history information up to 180 days. Now that sounds pretty easy to deal with because most people don’t clear out their cookies on a regular basis. Don’t forget with multiple people using the same computer your results will get skewed by other people’s searches.

At the end of the day I feel that this can be a good or bad thing depending on how you’re looking at it. On the SEO company side it can make things a lot easier as less keywords will be needed to return the desired search results. At the same time that can also make it harder as less keywords being needed means more sites will be fighting for the first page with the same keywords which means there will be need for changes in the way sites come up. On the user side this means they will be less likely to explore other sites meaning less diversity on their end which can get very annoying, for example; when you’re looking for different prices for the same object or similar objects. For things like recipes, tutorials, how-to guides, etc this could be really nice as typically I myself prefer to use the same sites for that because they typically are written in the same fashion when from one site but for other searches I can see this being more annoying than helpful.