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Personalized Search Versus Personal Choice

Personalized search is a hot topic especially since Yahoo! and Microsoft have announced they are aggressively developing this service. Most likely, people will be leery of personalized search if they ...

Personalized search is a hot topic especially since Yahoo!
and Microsoft have announced they are aggressively
developing this service. Most likely, people will be leery
of personalized search if they think that this is just be
another way for companies to market to them. Search engine
research has shown that there are typically two types of
searchers: information seekers and buyers.

Information Seekers

If personalized search is to work for the information
seekers, then instead of lots of targeted marketing, the
personalized search experience had better offer targeted
information that the person can use. A better information
search experience without having to bypass a slew of
commercial sites would appeal to the information seeker.


What if you already have the information you need or don't
want any information, but just want to make an online
purchase? For buyers, information-only sites are something
to be by-passed in the SERP's. If personalized search can
deliver the products and services the buyer wants, and not
just what the marketers want to push before them, then
buyers may find some value in personalized search.

Personal Choice

Personalized search must involve personal choice if it is to
succeed. The Big Brother and privacy issues need to be held
to a minimum. Personalized search needs to be an option that
can easily be turned on and off as desired. Personalized
search should not be equated with limited choices. The
person needs to feel that they are in control and not the
search engines. They also need to see real personal value in
using this service.

What if a person is sometimes an information seeker and
other times a buyer, or in the matter of seconds they switch
hats? How will personalized search accommodate this person?
Will the person have to toggle back and forth between a
couple of different user profiles or click on and off a
checkbox to switch between these two different forms of
search? These are questions the SE's will have to address in


Google has a beta personalized search engine at: that is
pretty interesting to test. You're told to click on Health,
then the General Health checkbox and search for "stanford."
When searching for the word "bob" instead of "stanford" at
the Minimum Personalize setting the first three results are
"Bob the Builder," "Bob Marley" and "Bob Dylan". The rest of
this page has no health related information on it as well.
But, when the slider is pulled to Maximum Personalize, "Dr.
Bob" has the first two positions followed the other results
mentioned above. Its obvious Google has a ways to go in
developing this.

Personal Privacy

If personalized search is to succeedFeature Articles, then personal privacy
issues need to be addressed and concerns held to a minimum.
Will personalized search involve searching your hard drive
to see what your interests are? Will your interests be
stored in a cookie on your computer? What happens when
multiple users share a computer - will someone else get hit
with all sorts of Preparation H advertisements because of
the hemorrhoid treatment searches you wanted to keep
private? And will children be affected by adult personalized

These are all questions that the SE's need to address so
that people do not feel that their privacy is being violated
or put at risk. The more control and choice the user has
over personalized search the more likely it has in
succeeding for the search engines.

Article Tags: Personalized Search, Personal Choice

Source: Free Articles from


Copyright 2004 SEO Resource
Kevin Kantola is the CEO of SEO Resource, a California search engine optimization company, and has published many articles over the past 20 years.

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