Google Predictive Search-Amazing Intrusive Technology
What is Google Predictive Search (aka Autocomplete)?
The short answer is its artificial intelligence in action! It's very convenient but it's certainly more than a convenience to say the least.
Google predictive search is designed to 'predict' your search intent which it does even before your finish typing your full request. As your already know it starts almost immediately by suggesting long tail keywords and phrases to fill your request, almost as soon as your fingers hit the keyboard. That means it knows a few things about you.
So what is this short post all about..two things. The amazing benefits we get from using the worlds top search engine and some privacy we give up in return. Obvious stuff for the most part but I needed to rant about privacy this morning anyway!!
How Much Does it Know About Us?
Let's not fool ourselves, it knows what we are looking for almost immediately...sometimes before we do and it is constantly cataloging our searches! It also impacts our behavior in such a way that as we see the narrowing of suggested topics while we are typing in the search bar, it's quite normal to click on a suggestion from Google, than for us to complete our full request. This almost always happens when we aren't entirely sure how to ask a particular question or how to enter the exact search criteria. It happens quite often with me, especially when I'm searching a new topic area that I'm not very familiar with. Smart tool, very helpful.
Is this beast peering into the heart and soul of everyone of us who use this simple, innocent looking search bar? Yes, it's trying too and with greater success each time we use it! But it collects more than just what we type into the search bar. Ever use Google's YouTube..who hasn't, right? It also collects data when we use Waze, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Apps, Google Chrome, ...Google everywhere including anything Android!
It's been written that these suggestions from Google reduce our typing by 25% on average...faster searches, faster results with ton's of head-spinning information.
What to do with it all? Well, with about half of us using Google from our mobile devices, it makes sense that we are looking for information that we need immediately, so speed is essential. Sometimes we tend to act as if our very survival depends on it (my kids did growing up). Like the television commercial says, "we want it all and we want it now".
The autocomplete feature varies by location and language. It's constantly collecting information about us so it can continue to personalize our search results. Makes sense I suppose, so like it or not Google has a voracious appetite for all the information it can get on each of us and it has a ton of it. On Google, the old adage that says 'you pay to play' certainly rings true.
So, getting back to the business end of it, the predictive nature of the search results we get serve up pertinent SEO terms. This gives us insight into what people are looking for in a particular niche and what our competitors are also looking for. From that perspective it's a great SEO tool. For more comprehensive search however, I think Jaaxy is still kind of the hill. More features and the brainstorming feature is amazing. The beast rewards us.
It might also tell you what's trending at the moment. If your city is hosing a major event, it will many times offer you some additional search results based on that event..since it knows your location.
Some Tips to try to Tame the Beast:
Tip #1: One possible way to avoid getting biased results is to make sure you are signed out of your Google account (if you have one) before you execute your search. It won't track the results to you.
Tip #2: When searching, remember how Google interprets your search words...typing in 'chocolate' is an informational inquiry. Typing in 'best chocolate" is more transactional. The results you get are going to be quite different as you see here.
Tip #3: If over one-half of Google users are on mobile devices..make sure your site is fine-tuned to be mobile friendly. Most of us on WA don't have this issue as the majority of the themes these days take that into account but making sure by verifying it on Google Console is a good idea anyway.
Tip #4: Be precise in your search, using medium and long tail keywords and phrases are best. You'll get better results.
Tip #5: Don't be so fast to give up personal information when asked for it. Always try to abbreviate what you provide.
Tip #6: After all is said and done...stop worrying, it’s to late anyway (a bit of humor there, but not far from the truth)! For a few more tips on limiting what Google tracks about you, check out this short article on Lifewire.
All the best,
PS. I know what you're thinking. What about Apple, Amazon, etc...yup, they're at it as well. We do give up a lot in return for convenience and speed, so is it worth it? That's your call.