Recently, search engines have tried to implement as much useful information about its users as possible to supply the most relevant results.
Bing’s announcement that it has implemented two new updates to its search technology shows that Microsoft is serious about trying to match, if not exceed, Google in personalized search.
Using location-based data to refine searches is part one of Bing’s initiative. Of course, Google did this last year when it began using users’ physical locations to refine certain searches. For example, if you type “shopping malls” into the search bar, among the top results will be a “Places for shopping malls near (your town)” list with a map on the side of the page.
Users also have the ability to change location. So the results will still be tailored to you no matter where you are.
But Bing’s second use of personal data is more intriguing. Bing now takes a users search history into account to come up with results.
If a user makes the same search multiple times, those sites they visited in the past will be moved up in the rankings. The reasoning behind this is that most people use the same specific search terms to get the same results.Why not give those to them sooner?
Say you visited a site that ranked on the second page of your search. This page will eventually find its way to the first page of results – only for you.
While some may cry foul on the use of such “personal” information, it’s really harmless in my opinion. Having your location (only down to your zip code, mind you) doesn’t mean a Google employee will be able to stalk you and your family, it just means more relevant results will come your way faster.
Plus, it may help Bing gain some steam in the great search arms race – it seems to already be on the right track.
A new study from Experian Hitwise found that Bing has an 81% relevancy rate (searches resulting in a website visit), compared to Google’s 65%. Of course, Google also accounts for 68% of searches so it’s got a wider audience to please.
Both Google and Bing are working hard at perfecting personalized search. It’s exciting in a sense to see what new ways they can improve the search experience and what boundaries can be pushed without getting, you know, too personal.