Using the Internet, we can find out what our friends in other parts of the world are doing. We can discover that 25% of all known species are beetles; and that most lipstick contains fish scales. But can we find the details of our flight next week or the tracking number for our latest purchase on Ebay? Of course we can’t, but Google has an answer: Personalized Search.
If you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses of SEO, you’ll want to learn more about how Google is tweaking your search results.
Even if you don’t run a business, you’ll get something out of Google’s personalized results. It works by looking at your stuff – your emails, your calendar and your Google+ account. You use the same Google Search box as you use to search the Internet and the results are displayed in the same format.
It’s A Personal Assistant
You can search for a phrase like “when does my flight arrive” and Google will use your emails to find your reservation and check the details. You could also type the phrase “what is my schedule tomorrow” and Google will look at your calendar and tell you what you have booked in. Or you could search for “my photos of the beach” and Google will go to your Google+ account and find the appropriate photos.
So it’s like a personal assistant where technology does your organizing. You need to have the information stored somewhere in the first place, but Google’s Personalized Search makes it easier to find.
The main categories of information you’re able to search are:
- Flight information
- Reservations at hotels, restaurants etc.
- Order information from your recent purchases
- Schedule information from your calendar
- Photos and other information on Google+
The Star Trek Vision
Google’s head of search, Amit Singhal, has described their goal as being like a Star Trek computer. This simply means being able to talk to computers like you would a person, although “Beam me up Scotty” will probably result in a recipe for a bourbon-based cocktail rather than any form of teleportation.
This is all part of Google’s plans to make computers smarter and more attuned to our needs. They’re like that annoying Jones family - always trying to one-up anything and everything you do (only Google is slightly less annoying and more helpful than any neighbor).
There are several ways in which Google is moving towards the smart “Star Trek” computer, including Google Glass and Google Now. In fact, Google Now operates in a very similar way to Personalized Search and it delivers similar results. The difference is Google Now anticipates what you want to know, while Personalized Search waits until you have asked for it.
There are obvious privacy concerns with Personalized Search. For example, if someone is using a device that is logged into another person’s Google account, all sorts of private information will be available, including that embarrassing picture that may or may not go viral.
But like a lot of other forms of technology, we’ll learn how to live with the issues that arise. And we’ll do so because Personalized Search is convenient and useful.
Google is embedded in our lives in a way that no other product is. So, even with the privacy concerns, Personalized Search is here to stay. And let’s face it – even if you’re the type of person with the perfectly organized Tupperware, your digital life probably needs some help. Let Google assist you.