Google Continues to Personalize and Change Search

Google Continues to Personalize and Change Search

9th August 2012

Want to get your results as personal as possible? Google is going to get you there. They’ve already personalized results in a big way without you having to do anything. In a ‘field trial’ they are now giving you even more personalization: find your e-mail in Google search.

This is just one test which Google is performing, but they are doing a lot more. In a blog post yesterday they announced this trial, but also a new addition to “Knowledge Graph” and enhanced voice search on Android, which will make sure Google understands even a bit more about you.

Gmail in your search results

Remember Google Desktop? It was a way to search through your entire computer as if you were using Google. Some of that technology, along with the search technology already available within Gmail, is now used to give us back results from our Gmail in our ‘regular’ search results. You can sign up for this field trial here.

In the right navigation pane you will get “Gmail results” showing on a search. It is actually very similar to one browser plugins which are used for for example showing you bookmarks you’ve stored on Diiggo or Delicious in the past. Next to regular results e-mail results about the topic will show as well.

The more interesting part lies in something which is not there yet, but something Google is working on, which will not just show you the e-mails but will also interpret them. Doing a search for example on ‘my flights’ will give you a summary of your upcoming trips.

This last part is most useful, but also very much privacy sensitive. Now, the results will not be shown to other people than yourself, so there is no worry there, but it is very valuable information which Google is gathering about you. It will enable them to connect the dots even more between your mail and your searches. There is a prize for everything.

Voice search and answers

More personalization comes from the improved voice search. This feature is much like Apples Siri. Tap the mic, ask a question, get an answer, all in voice. Google has now improved this feature so it can ‘better interpret your questions and sometimes speak the answers back as full sentences’.

It means Google can understand you better, but not just the question you ask, also why you are asking and what kind of personalized information they might give you back in the future.

Check it out:

Adding lists to Knowledge Graph

The final update Google has made is in the Knowledge Graph area. They have been doing updates on this feature quite a lot since it launched. It now not just shows celebrities for example, but anyone you might know.

Now they’ve improved it even more with giving you lists related to your search, above the search results. On the top of the page you might find results related to your search. For example if I do a search for “things to do in San Francisco” (going there next week remember), I might get an overview of things I can do there.

Here’s how it works:

There is an interesting part to this. It will give you as a user more possibilities and more results to click on. In return Google will know more specifically what kind of things you are looking for and what sort of information you will be getting back.

But more interestingly is two other things: what will this mean for the ads Google has on the top of the page? If you do a search for “things to do in San Francisco” now, there are no less than four ads above the search results. It looks like they will suffer from this.

Secondly, Google is deciding what will be shown in the list. As a site owner you don’t seem to have any SEO -ing you can for this. It is all Google deciding. What does this mean for you as site owner?


All in all, the changes announced by Google yesterday may seem minor at first, but have a big impact on personalization. Things are getting personal in two ways: we are getting more specific information, but more importantly: Google is getting more and more information about us as well.


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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