Do Users Want Personalized Search

Fahrenheit Marketing in Design

Recently Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released the results of a survey on search engine use. The researchers interviewed over 2,000 adults by telephone, asking them about how often they used search engines, which search engines they used, and if they cared for personalized search. The results paint an interesting picture of American internet usage.

Not surprisingly, search has remained one of the most popular internet activities, topped only by emailing. Google is far and away the most popular search engine, with 83% of respondents reporting that they use Google search the most often. In second place was Yahoo with only 6%.

On the whole, adult searchers are pleased with their search engine experience, with 66% reporting that their search results are fair and unbiased. 86% said that they have learned something new or important using a search engine and only 34% reported that really critical information was missing from search results. According to the study, the most frequent searchers are young, educated and affluent adults. Younger adults also tend to have more confidence in their abilities to conduct a good internet search.

The most interesting finding of the survey, however, was user perception of personalized search. 65% of users reported that search engines using past searches to personalize future results was a “BAD thing.” Only 29% thought that search personalization was a positive development. 71% thought that personalized search was an invasion of privacy and 68% viewed targeted advertising negatively.  Just 38% of adults searchers knew how to keep a search engine from collecting their information, and most of those did so by simply deleting their web history.

Though personalized search may not be popular, search engines are obviously here to stay and will continue to be an important component of internet user experience. This is why a good mix of SEO and personalized search tactics will be important for businesses.

Question: Do you want to see personalized results when you search?