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Survey: Personalized Search is a Little Too Personal

personalized search

MDG Advertising recently released a comprehensive new infographic detailing public perceptions of the search market today. The survey behind the infographic touched on some general criteria regarding the fairness and accuracy of search results.

The main intent of the survey was to determine how the general public feels about personalized search results, something that is very near and dear to Google, Bing, Yahoo and other less popular search engines. As revealed by the survey, the bottom line is that the majority of individuals are against personalized search.

More specifically, 73% of respondents saying that "if a search engine kept track of what you search for and used that info to personalize your future search results," they would consider it an invasion of privacy. Interestingly, the infographic also indicates that the older and richer you are, the more likely you are to be against personalized search results.

General Perceptions About Search Today

The infographic offers some interesting data regarding how the general population perceives modern search. A few of the more important statistics are highlighted below:

  • 28% of the respondents said they trust "all or almost all" of the information they receive from search engines. 45% said they trust "most," while 22% said they trust "some"
  • 66% said they find search engines to be a "fair and unbiased source of information," while 20% disagreed with this notion

Other questions examined how the search experience has changed over time:

  • 52% said that search engine results are becoming "more relevant over time," while 40% said they haven't detected a difference
  • 55% said the "quality of information" distributed through search engines has improved, while 39% said it's stayed the same
  • 91% said they "always" or "most of the time" find what they're looking for with a search engine, up from 87% in 2004

Personalized Search is Unpopular

Although most users seem to be having positive experiences with search engines overall, things weren't so rosy when the survey turned its attention to personalized search results. In short, people feel like their internet experience is being artificially limited, and that their privacy is being violated in the process. In fact, 65% of respondents flatly said that personalized search is a "bad thing," compared to 29% who think it's a "good thing."

Interestingly, household income had a major impact on the results. 45% of those making less than $30k annually saw personalized search as a bad thing, while 68% of those making $30k to $75k said the same. A whopping 75% of individuals making over $75k annually disliked personalized search.

Mike Quayle

Posted on 16th April, 2012 by Mike Quayle

About Mike Quayle

Mike Quayle is a SEO, content writer, and marketer from Seattle, Washington.

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