Today marks the first day Google is changing the way it's using the data it collects about you. Google has been promoting these changes for a little while now and we'd thought we'd touch on what this all means.
First up, if you don't want Google to track your history, just go to http://google.com/history
If you don't go to the link above, Google will start to look at how you use their search engine, email service (Gmail), calendar and 60+ other services (including Google+) and compile this information into a form it can use to deliver you results which are tailored for you.
What this means is, when you do a web search, you may find that your results differ from another colleagues. This is because Google has worked out where you live, what you do and other personal bits and pieces and has used this to deliver you results which are more meaningful.
When you think about it, this does, in some ways, make their search engine even more powerful than ever before. If I can run a search for "coffee" and it comes up with a place around the corner that one of my friends has recommended on Google+, that's a pretty good service!
The down side to this however is that if you want to check out how your site is going in Google, it's now a little harder. Because Google is tailoring it's results on a person by person basis, being in the top spot on your screen doesn't mean that you'll be in the top spot of anyone else's. This is a challenge which lies ahead for the industry in terms of how to work with this new approach but ultimately, if you're publishing meaningful information on your website which is relevant to your target market, there's a good chance this new system will help increase your exposure to this market.... it's just going to be a little trickier to measure!
The other downside of this new approach from Google is that they can now target ads at you more effectively. This is "bad" for consumers like me who aren't opposed to buying fun gadgets online but it's great for our clients who already advertise in Google.
So the wash up at the end of the day here is that although Google is changing a few things, it's doing it with the goals of businesses in mind which means that if it works, everyone will start to see even greater benefits to having an online presence.