Personalized Search – The Feature No one is Asking For

As the debate over personalized search continues I asked myself this question, is anyone one really asking for personalized search results?

In all of my thousands of searches over multiple years I’ve never said “hmm you know what would make this results page better, if Google was to give me completely different results than the guy next to me, boy that would be just swell”. I’ve never met a business owner who’s said “man you know what, I wish the search engines could create anarchy by making sure no two people got the exact same results for the exact same search, that would be the best thing since sliced bread”. I’ve never met a single person who’s said “wow searching for something at home gives me different results than searching for something at work, that’s not confusing at all, in fact I think that’s an improvement, why can’t my calculator work like that”.

Let’s get to the real heart of the matter who wants personalized search, Gord Hotchkiss has the answer Personalized Search Brouhaha

In three interviews with usability people at Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, when I asked them about the biggest challenge to overcome, they all pointed to getting away from the current paradigm of a query box and a standard set of results.

There you have it, who wants things to change the search engines. Which is great because you know they don’t want to confuse things they want to help us and make things better, simple and easy to understand. They just want to improve the user experience. It’s not like they would decide to give us information about who links to our site and then the next day say oh yeah all that data we just gave you is for entertainment purposes only, because we might or might not actually be using it.

Let’s see what other services can be improved with personalized results … maybe your bank statement, 17 is your favorite number right so why don’t they put some extra 17’s in there because personalized results are always better aren’t they? What else … hmm … I use the letter “M” alot according to my keyboard history log so why not mix in a couple of “M”‘ grades on my kids report cards that should make me happy and improve my end user experience.

So he Google stop forcing these “improvements” down on people who really don’t really understand what personalized search is, just because you think it’s better for them. Secondly stop hiding the fact that you are doing this by removing the notification. Lastly stop making it so difficult to opt out, by requiring people to log in/out or nuke search history to avoid it. Clearly all that can’t be good for the end user, don’tcha think?

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