We often get questions from our clients, especially when Google decides to do something new, as in this case. This latest move by Google has quite a few people wondering how it will actually affect them, if at all. Take a read of the answer and you decide if you think it’s something to worry about or not.
Q. Is there anything I need to understand about how the new Google Search History stuff will affect us in searches?
A. And the answer is…. YES and NO : )
No, in the sense that the change does not make that big of a difference, it’s much ado about nothing… (in other words the change is way over hyped)
Targeted Advertising and Search Results
Yes, in that this is really about the fact that Google, Facebook and many other online services keep track of various statistics about people and then provide search results, advertising and offers that are changed by those statistics. They keep track of are things like, what sites you visit and what you put in online profiles, what you choose to “like” online. For example on my Facebook page there was an ad this morning for a particular author’s new audiobook. This particular ad was for an author that I like – the arrival of that particular ad was caused by the fact that I had previously entered into Facebook information about subjects and hobbies that interest me. Other people who do not have the same interests or habits online would not see that particular ad.
Is this a Good or a Bad thing?
Depending on your personal philosophical attitude this might be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that online services can deliver content that is more relevant to what you are actually interested in. The particular book ad that I saw this morning is actually very interesting to me and I might not have known about it otherwise. It’s hard to identify anything specifically bad about it in an objective sense. The bad comes from an emotional response to the perception of being “watched”, your activity and online information is tracked and of being “manipulated” with targeted advertising. The doomsayer’s are raising their hands and suggesting this is something to be frightened of.
This is NOT new but what is new is…
This is not new – Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing and many others have been doing this for years. What is changing is simply that Google is combining this type of information across its platforms such as YouTube and Google + as well as search (albeit being open and honest about it). It is also not new in the sense that advertising companies and media companies have been also doing this for years. What is new is the fact that online services are able to make the process much more effective and accurate.
How does this affect how I run my business?
From the point of view of you running and marketing your business “Targeted Advertising and Search Results” can affect you in several ways.
Your own search results are altered by the sites you have previously visited. For example, chances are that you visit your own website fairly often. The very fact that you have previously visited your own website means that your own website will appear to be ranking better for you than it might be to someone who has never visited it before.
If you want to see what other people are potentially seeing (how well you are really ranking) you need to search without your search history and account profiles changing the results. The catch is that someone else’s search may be affected by their own personal history and profiles so you are still not necessarily seeing what they are seeing. Everyone’s search results are therefore potentially different. The best you can hope for is that your search results show what someone else is likely to be seeing if they have never searched and clicked on a website in a similar market to yours before.
This process of “biased search results” can be a good thing for you in that if a client has previously clicked on your website and then later searches on a related keyword YOUR website can potentially rank better in their search results. So it’s a VERY good idea to make sure all your clients visit your website as often and as much as possible. Also, if you choose to do some form of paid advertising online it means that you can cause your ads to be more highly targeted and therefore for more cost effective.
How to Search Without YOUR Search History and Account Profiles Changing the Results
First it’s important to say that search results are only SLIGHTLY affected by their history and profiles. However, it can for example make the difference between appearing to be on page one or not. Also bear in mind that one change in placement on page one can DOUBLE the number of visitors to your website.
Here’s how to do it.
- Turn off history – go to your browser and remove clear ALL recent history, this includes, browsing history, downloads, cache and cookies.
- Log out of any online accounts.
- Close and re-start your browser
Make sure you have current, active updated spyware running. (We recommend Spybot Search & Destroy http://www.safer-networking.org/en/home/index.html and it’s free!)
If you are not sure how to turn off your history, just search on “clear [browser name] history”, there are loads of how-to’s online.