About Google's targeted search results

Every now and again there’s a burst of protest as Google trials different ways to tailor search results in accordance to our habits and preferences. 

If you work in SEO you’ll be aware of it. Most people haven’t a clue about the ins and outs of search data manipulation. But it’ll probably affect us all sooner or later. So why does Google keep it quiet?

Is Google too secretive about targeted search?

It’d be good to see Google taking an up-front approach to targeted search. If I was them I’d JFDI and give searchers a prominent, benefit-led opt in/out on the Google home page so we could choose whether or not to have our search results tailored to our behaviour, online experiences and (alleged) preferences. The choice would be presented simply and transparently so everyone could understand it, distilled to its simplest form.

If I was asked to write it, I’d say something like this:

  • Are you happy to let Google use the way you search the internet to predict what you’d like to discover in future? Click yes or no here
  • Do you want to explore the internet without Google taking your habits, likes and dislikes into account? Click yes or no here

They’re highly simplistic. But that’s the point. Caveats, conditions and exceptions won’t cut the communications mustard. The choice should be absolutely clear.
It’s unlikely every Google user on the planet will end up joining Google Plus either. So maybe search results targeting shouldn’t depend on being signed into a Google account either…?