With the new policy, Google will collect and store personal data from user email and social accounts like Google+, Gmail, and YouTube. This means Google will remember likes and dislikes, as well as the likes and dislikes of a user’s social circles, and will use this information to personalize search results and paid advertisements.
If the user or the web-surfer is logged in to his or her Google account while searching for something online, then Google will place websites on the top of search results that the user has either given a plus(+), has visited earlier, or a member of their social circle has shared. Other websites, no matter how informative or relevant to the search they might be, could in effect be placed lower in the results.
Information Google Collects
Google makes the statement “We collect information to provide better services to all of our users – from figuring out basic stuff like which language you speak, to more complex things like which ads you’ll find most useful or the people who matter most to you online.”
So what information are they collecting exactly? Some of the data include:
- Personal Information – a user’s name, email address, and telephone number.
- Device Information – device-specific information such as what type of computer the user is logging into their account from, the device’s operating system version, and mobile network information.
- Log Information – when someone uses Google services or views content provided by Google, they automatically collect details such as search queries; telephone log information like phone number, time and date of calls, duration of calls; device event information such as crashes, system activity, hardware settings, browser type, browser language; and cookies that uniquely identify browsers and Google Accounts.
- Location Information – location enabled Google services process information about the user’s actual location from GPS signals sent by a mobile device or sensor data from the user’s device that may provide information on nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.
What This Means for Businesses
Approximately 70% of Google users worldwide are logged into their Gmail or Google+ accounts when they enter a search. That means a majority of a business’s online audience will see search results differently. The placement of a business website will vary according the user’s personalized search.
- Pro: It will be easier to reach a target audience as searches are focused on location and demographic data.
- Con: Businesses not on the social radar, are less likely to show up at the top of search results and risk not being noticed online at all.
Businesses have already seen the value in social media marketing, but now it will become an essential aspect of successful search engine ranking. They will also need to focus more effort on building a loyal following of customers to plus(+) and share their brand with their social circles.