Internet Users Uneasy About Personalised Search Results

Posted on Feb 14th 2012



As Google begins to roll out its new personalised search results page, basic search and social media look set to overlap. Not everybody however, is happy about the increasingly personal direction in which search results are heading.   

At the beginning of the year, Google announced the launch of Search Plus Your World, a brand new approach to search which will integrate standard search results with personalised content from the searcher’s Google Plus social network, including links, photos and comments. Although the feature is designed to enhance the search function with individually relevant information, the move has come under fire from some Internet users who have raised concerns about privacy. 


In a recent AYTM Market Research survey, Internet users in the US were asked for their opinions on personalised search results. Only 15.5% of the people questioned outright preferred the idea of “social search”, while 39.1% said they were positive about the concept but had concerns about personal privacy. Furthermore, 45.4% of respondents said that they favoured the current setup of standardised search results for everyone.  

Although Google remains by far the most widely used search engine in the world, their social media platform has been slow to take off. Less than a fifth of the Internet users who took part in the AYTM survey actively used Google Plus, while 19.5% did not even know what Google Plus was.  

Predictably, Twitter have also criticised the shakeup of search results, not least because Google plan to exclude profile content from all other social networks from its search results pages when Search Plus Your World becomes widely available this March. A Twitter spokesperson said that the proposed changes would make it more difficult for Internet users to find up to date information about world events and breaking news, noting “As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results... We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone.” 

While Internet users appear to be unconvinced about the potential of Google’s changes, marketers should not underestimate the impact that personalised search results could have on their Internet marketing strategy when it launches in just a few months. Now, more than ever, it has become vital to strike the right balance between SEO and social media marketing to reach your customers online.

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