Last month, Google slightly improved the relevancy of the ads it displays when you search for something. In addition to taking your last search into account, Google now also factors in your immediately-previous search. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Google released more information about how it improves its search algorithm – notably, by collecting data on searches.
Today, Google has added a new feature that shows users how their results are customized, based on factors like location, recent searches, and a longer search history. CNET gives the example of a San Francisco user searching for “kiss fm” and finding the KISS-FM in San Francisco, not the KISS-FM in any other city, as her top result.
This customization is important for search. More relevant results are better results. With search competition increasing, Google needs personal data to keep its algorithm up-to-date. As Google pointed out in its comments to the FTC’s proposed behavioral ad rules, personal data of some form will have to be collected and used if the internet is ever going to improve. That means the government will have to stay out.