Google wants its Google+, local search, and personalized search to succeed. Personalized search is something that’s gotten some push-back from users who sometimes find it creepy that big G wants to “get to know them” better. A study done last year shows that users love relevant results but hate being tracked.
It’s a catch 22 for Google. Sometimes, the most relevant results come from personalized search. Yet, to get personalized results, Google needs to track user behavior. It’s like having a stranger always peering over your shoulder watching you. An extremely knowledgeable stranger, but a stranger just the same. The information he gives you is awesome, but you don’t know him and you kinda want him to mind his own business. Still, you like the “inside info” he gives you.
The study revealed that the majority of users think it’s bad that Google tracks user behavior. Yet, out of the same set of survey respondents, 86 percent of users said they learned something new of important that really helped them increase their knowledge.
This is a cue for Google, and it has decided to act on it. To that end, the company is hiring a new product marketing manager for search. The job description?
“As Product Marketing Manager within the search growth team, you will be responsible to developing plans, creatives, campaigns and programs to increase the number of user’s signed in.”
Signing into Google would provide the company with access to all of your search behavior. It could, and probably would, improve relevancy if we believe Google’s internal reports and studies. Of course, Google could just require users to sign in to use its services. It has every right to do so. But this might be bad for business as users have become accustomed to searching “for free” without having to give up personal information. There’s also the matter of privacy advocates who would, no doubt, raise a stink about Google requiring people to give up personal information to use its services.
Google has consistently advocated for personalized search, and said that searching while signed into your Google account provides more relevant search results. Its “Search Plus Your World” mixes your own personal, social, account data with search results. Some users find that this interferes with objectivity in search results but it’s also clearly helped users find information that they would otherwise have not found with traditional search.
It also provides a new context for search. Getting search results that are influenced by your interests leads to “values-based” searching where you’re more apt to discover information relevant to your life. The job posting is already removed, so something is clearly happening with this position. What carrot will Google come up with to get us all to divulge our every search query? Only time will tell.