Call me an old Luddite if you will, but to me – as a user rather than just as an SEO – personalised search is a faulty concept. The whole point of “search” is that I’m looking for something I usually don’t know much about – so why would I want sites that I already know about appearing in search results? If they had what I wanted I wouldn’t need to do a search! Personalisation only really makes sense if you use search engines merely as a navigation tool rather than a search tool. Ok we know some people do that but are we really restricting the capability and functionality of something as important as search on the habits of people who can’t be bothered to learn to use bookmarks?
As regards real-time search I only see the point in it for news-based queries – otherwise being new doesn’t make something any more relevant or carry any quality signal, so why focus on it? And it seems I’m not the only one to think so according to a new study summarised here.
The appearance of Twitter or Facebook entries in search results is completely irrelevant for the sort of searches I make, and most of the time so is video. I’d like to be able to turn them off and only include them on the rare occasions when I think they are relevant. I already use a Firefox add-on that kills Adwords for my personal searches since I *never* use PPC ads and they’ve become progressively more annoying. Sadly Google seem determined to show me what they think I should see and not what I want to see, and they resist all suggestions to allow us flexibility. They insist on devoting all their visible efforts to these increasingly complex layouts and features that push real organic results further down the page, yet the quality of the organic results is probably worse now than it was 5 years ago and they seem to be unable to filter out obvious spam of a type that they claim to hate and we ethical SEO’s have been railing against for years.
The end result is a low quality experience for many users. I would say to them to concentrate on quality and simplicity – which was what made them popular in the first place – and give us a choice of what we want to see in the results rather than foist unwanted “features” on us. Because if they don’t then they really are risking losing users to someone else that will give us what we want. The online world is littered with once-popular sites and companies that have died the death, and no-one, not even Google, is immune from changing public preferences.