Google launches My Search History, takes first step toward personalized search
By Charlene Li
With the launch of My Search History, Google takes the first major step towards enabling the Holy Grail of search – personalizing search results for each individual user. Yes, My Search History keeps track of every query and search result that you click on within Google.com. Yes, there are some pretty interesting, (and scary) implications of Google keeping all of that data on their servers.
But what struck me in my conversation with Marissa Mayer, Google’s director of consumer Web products, yesterday was that having a detailed history of your activity would allow Google to personalize search results. Marissa gave a great example – I searched on “RSS” yesterday and today searched on “Atom RSS”, Google would filter out introductory RSS Web pages and deliver more advanced articles on the Atom standard (presumably looking at similar searches done by other people and determining what they found to be most relevant based on click behavior). The implications on the consumer side are obvious – better search. And on the advertising side, marketers would spend substantially more if they could target ads to users based on their past search history (click here for the Forrester brief – available only to clients).
Marissa pointed out that My Search History is currently a Google Labs product, but that when a My Search History user goes to www.google.com and is signed in, the interface will change. This means that My Search History is integrated across the entire Google network. Users can access their history from *any* computer as long as they are signed in. Think about the infrastructure and computing power needed to scale such a product. The secret sauce: a new data field on the Google cookie that tells the engine on which server the data file is located.
I believe that My Search History use will be predominately used by students, researchers like myself, and curious search aficionados. But Google’s smart engineers are shooting for something much bigger with personalized search, and they’ve taken the first step in that direction.
So tell me, what would it take for you to sign in and give Google the permission to track all of your activities on Google? Is My Search History enough functionality for you to give up your personal search behavior data, or are you going to hold out for better functionality and service? Comment, please!