Google Wants You (And Me)

 
 
By Michael Hickins  |  Posted 2009-04-23
 
 
 

Think Google can't possibly earn itself an even bigger portion of the search pie? Think again.

Google is giving users yet another compelling reason to get a Google account, this time promising to make searches on their own names more relevant. Talk about an exercise in narcissism, but for once, when a company tells you this is all about you, boy do they mean it.

To see what I mean, simply type "me" into the search field and hit go. Google will return results for Apple's Mobile Me, a .gov site for the state of Maine, a link to Me Magazine, some YouTube clips featuring the word "me," a Microsoft support site for Windows ME (yipes!) and, eventually -- if you already have some kind of account with Google -- an incomplete stump of your own profile.

What Google is banking on is that people want to be found, and especially if their name is fairly common, that a name search on their name returns the "them" they want you to find if it's indeed "them" you're looking for -- if you know what I mean.

Nothing more frustrating for your ego than doing a search on your own name and realizing that a person could easily mistake someone else's information for yours.

If you already have a Google account, you probably won't stumble over your own profile until you get fairly far down the page, whereas if you don't have one, the first search result is a link to instructions for creating a Google profile, which is a great way to snag new users. Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said the profiles are not just a good way to engage more people with Google, but will tempt more people to shop with Google Checkout, use Picasa to post pictures or use Google's Blogger. "It deepens your engagement with Google," he told USA Today.

Either way, Google gets to serve more ads or, in some cases, earn fees.

There are certainly plenty of people who worry that Google already knows too much about them, and won't fall for this. But they're in the huge minority. Most will be more than happy to create or add to their profiles so that when you search on their names, you're aware that 25 years ago, they won their elementary school's spelling bee.

Rocket Fuel