Google Personalized: For The Search-Challenged

    March 29, 2004

Google beta launched Google Personalized today, but it’s going to take a lot more functionality to get me to use it rather than keywords to narrow my search.

Check out Google Personalized and tell us what you think in the forum.

For the Not-So Bright...Welcome Google Personalized
For the Not-So Bright…Welcome Google Personalized

Google Personalized allows users to preselect areas of interest and then, once the results are in, to adjust a “slider” bar at the top of the page to make certain “personalized” results rise to the top.

The faq page suggests some searches for which Google Personalized has “a clear effect on your results,” including terms like “Othello” when you’re searching for the board game, or “bass” when you’re looking for fish.

If I were searching for the game Othello in regular Google though, I’d search for “Othello game,” so let’s compare results.

In Google Personalized, with my preference set to “Games > Boardgames” and the personalization bar set over to “max,” Mattel’s online Othello gaming site rises right to the top.

The second result is an Othello gaming society site from Singapore, and the third is a link from BoardGameGeek, a site that offers game reviews and comments from members.

Regular Google’s top result for “othello game” is a site that discusses Othello strategy – and there are some AdWords there on the right that allow me to buy the board game itself (no AdWords in Google personalized section yet).

Second place in natural Google is a strategy page from the top result, and third is a school project version of Othello where you can play against the computer.

Google Personalized’s top result, Mattel’s site, ranks 9th in a natural search.

For this particular search I don’t feel confident that I’m getting more relevant results by searching for “othello” in a personalized search than for “othello game” in natural search.

Plus I get the ads when I’m in natural search, which I might appreciate if I want to buy the game.

So what is the value of Google Personalized?

If the intent of Personalized is to allow users to think less and still receive fairly relevant results I think Google has succeeded.

As an experiment I find Google Personalized fascinating, and spent most of the morning going back and forth and comparing Personalized and natural results trying to figure out just how the personalizer works.

For my industrial searches I’ll stick to “personalization” through search term selection though, until Google can actually get to know me well enough to really personalize.

Here’s where you can discuss Google Personalized in Google’s forum.

Here’s the Google Personalized FAQ.

Garrett French is the editor of iEntry’s eBusiness channel. You can talk to him directly at WebProWorld, the eBusiness Community Forum.