Yes, you, too, are a Google guinea pig. We all are. The millions of searches we do help Google determine how we search.
But did you know Google actually does field tests to determine how we search and what kind of search results work best? That Google makes it easier for us to find the information we want when we don't know what information we want?
Bear with me and follow Dan Russell, a member of the Search Quality team doing user experience research for Google, as he explains how the search engine giant conducts field studies to improve the user experience. In tests that recall your Psychology 101 lab days, humans are the rats searching for the various kinds of informational cheese. Russell noted:
"We find that searchers often turn so quickly to Google that they don't really think too much about what they're actually searching for."
The subtext is less thought and more reliance on Google for information, which revives Nicholas Carr's argument about whether Google is making us stupid.
In one field study, Russell said, Google tracks searchers' eyes to see how they scan search results. Google has determined that humans execute a very rapid scan and assessment of each result as it is seen. In another, Russell said, Google determined the old advanced search engine was a turn-off, so Google refreshed it.
Check out these slides. What do you think?