The Blind Search Feedback Loop

So lately I’ve been ¬†doing a lot of reading and research on search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) best practices. A practice that until recently I knew a little about but a lot of which deals with keywords (how we search the web) and other on- & off-page ¬†tactics to help search engines find, index and serve your site to potential customers. Everyone seems to have their own “tricks” or methodologies behind what a good SEO/SEM strategy involves and how to go about implementing these changes to your site. But in all that reading I feel like one small factor has been missed, human search pathology.

Our reliance on Google, Yahoo, Bing & Aol to serve up web pages has become a debilitating disease from most people using the web today. If something doesn’t exist on the first two or three pages in our minds it probably doesn’t exist and has developed an entire industry of “experts” to help companies find there way to the top. Although there are exceptions, we often choose to explore only the first few choices provided to us. And one of Google’s latest inventions, Google Instant, is amplifying the problem.

So, what’s the problem with instant search results and algorithms that pull content based on words and phrases in web pages? Well, nothing really.

There’s another part of the equation that isn’t immediately noticed when you are searching the web or even Facebook that is plaguing the internet — personalized search results.

Aside from the links we click on, algorithms, “pandas” and spiders are the ones who help decide what our choices are on the web. Normally this is a good thing, we can find more information related to our search query that is relative to other topics, interests and sites we’ve visited in the past and Facebook’s instant personalizations of web sites can also help you identify articles your friends have read and enjoyed. However, as Eli Pariser will explain in the video below, this method of personalization can cut us off from the rest of the connected world by filtering out what it thinks we “don’t” need to see. It can exclude anything from breaking news and events happening locally or around the world.

What do you think — Does instant personalization of the web lead to better productivity or a limited view of the world? Is there a happy medium? Where should search engines draw the line?

Video originally found on Lifehacker – The Problem with Your Google Search Result Feedback Loop (and What You Can Do About It).

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