One of Google’s business practices has a history of making users feel vaguely uncomfortable: they record their users’ search history. Of course, this is fairly standard practice for many search engines, not just Google, but it’s Google that has finally decided to cut through the Gordian knot of mistrust created by the collection of users’ data. From now on, the search giant will offer its users the option of deleting their archived search history. This is different from just hitting the ‘delete’ button in your browser’s ‘history’ tab – that only gets rid of the record held on your computer. Google are offering people the chance to get rid of the records held by the company itself.
In order to erase their online paper-trail, users will have to download their archive. They can then peruse it and decide whether they want Google to scrap it or continue to hold onto it.
In many respects, this new feature is a fantastic bit of marketing for the search engine. In the post-Snowden and post-WikiLeaks world, the average web user is more concerned about their privacy than ever before. By putting people in charge of their own search archives, Google is positioning itself as a champion of online privacy.
But how does this affect your own marketing and SEO strategies? Google is likely to gain a substantial number of users thanks to its new archive deletion feature; many of them will be defectors from Bing and Yahoo. In other words, there could be a noticeable shift in the way the search market is carved up. Google is already the largest of the three main search engine providers, but its lead is likely to grow as a result of this new feature. So you might want to consider gearing your online marketing methods towards Google’s search algorithms above those of the other two engines.
Naturally, the balance of power between the ‘big three’ search engine providers is constantly shifting. In the past, we’ve responded to successes for Bing and Yahoo by suggesting you bulk up your efforts to appeal to those search engines. However, Google’s simple addition of a way for users to delete their archives is something of a game changer. The balance of power will swing towards one of the other two providers at some point, but it may not be for quite some time.