People apparently don't like personalized results, according to a survey of 400 U.S. Web users. That doesn't bode well for "Google's Search, plus your world" technology.
More searchers prefer Google search results to remain
impersonal rather than personalized, according to a small sample of 400 U.S.
AYTM Market Research asked
Web users if they liked the idea of personalized search results, which is a
particularly poignant question at this stage in Google's evolution. Some 45.4
percent of respondents said they preferred to see the same search results as
everyone else, which would seem to skewer Google's plans to inject social media
content into its own search results.
Google, the dominant U.S. search engine
with some 66 percent
market share, last month launched
"Search, plus your world," a
play to inject topical Google+ posts and photos into users' search results on
For example, a
user searching for the term "New York Mets" on Google.com would see
content they've created about the baseball team, as well as posts and photos created
by friends who have chosen to share their content with the searcher on the
Google+ social network. The idea is that Google is making people a major part
of the search equation to boost personal relevancy.
Yet if AYTM's
small poll is to be believed, most people don't like this personal search
approach. Of those surveyed, only 15.5 percent said they would like
personalized search results, while 39.1 percent said that while they might like
such results, they were also concerned with privacy.
While U.S. senators
and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) have expressed concern
about how Google user privacy might be impacted by Search, plus your world,
Google employs Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to personal results.
Google has also made sure to mark personal results with specific designations
used on Google+, including brandings for Public, Limited or Only you.
There is also
a new toggle switch in the upper right-hand corner of search results pages
where users can see what results look like without personal content. So privacy
isn't as much a concern, perhaps, as the fact that Google has also chosen not
to include social content from Facebook and Twitter in Search, plus your world.
This is the
result of some complicated and contentious negotiations that failed to bear
fruit. Interestingly, while people may be concerned about Google+ on the whole,
most aren't using it.
network has around 90 million registered users, but 41 percent of those
surveyed said they don't use Google+. Less than 20 percent of those surveyed by
AYTM said they actively use Google+, and another 20 percent said they have a
Google+ account but don't use it.
19.5 percent said they don't even know what Google+ is, underscoring how much
more marketing Google must do to make its social network a household brand like
Facebook, which has roughly 850 million users and recently filed for a $5
billion initial public offering.
7.5 percent of those surveyed by AYTM said they would use Google+ if they knew
it helped personalize their results, while 44.4 percent said they would not and
48.1 percent said they might use Google+ if they thought it would help.
doesn't sound very encouraging, Search Engine Land
, which detailed the AYTM
data, put the issue in perspective:
important to point out that this is just one survey, and it's not clear how
representative the survey population was of the entire U.S. adult population.
It's also important to observe that people often react negatively to change.
However, these results, if they can be generalized, represent a pretty strong
negative reaction to the new direction Google is headed."
eMarketer, which published AYTM's results on its Website
in: "Google faces an uphill battle as it works to connect its social
content to search results, including determining how users prefer to connect
is that Google has its work cut out for it in all facets of social, from
growing membership and user engagement to successfully preaching and upholding
user privacy concerns.