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Recent Changes To Google Privacy Policy, Algorithms and Google Plus

Recent Google Updates Causes Hightened Media AttentionGoogle has enacted a number of changes in recent weeks, including alterations to its algorithms, a much-publicized streamlining of its privacy policy and a new development for Google Plus. Some information and insights from our Los Angeles SEO firm regarding these changes:

Google Plus Changes

Search Plus Your WorldWhen it launched Search Plus Your World release earlier this month, Google designed it to be the next step in determining what is relevant to personalized search queries, based on the idea that people’s search results are greatly influenced by their circles of friends. So, with Google Search Plus Your World, your friends’ online experiences are more relevant to your personal search results than links, domain authority – or, it seems, anything else. This new development is vastly different from what most people understood about the perceived relevancy of public web search results. The fallout from this is that if you aren’t happy with the relevancy of your personalized search results in Google Search Plus Your World, it’s the fault of your friends on Google Plus. If this sounds unappealing, don’t worry; according to Search Engine Watch (who also described the additional changes to Google Plus), Google knows this and is still working out the bugs.

Google Privacy Policy

Recent Google Privacy Policy UpdatesYou’d have to engage in a lifestyle where Google isn’t necessary (which is a little like living under a rock) not to be aware of the recent changes to the Google privacy policy. From leading search blogs to news reports to notifications on Google platforms themselves, the secret is out – and that’s the way Google wants it. Accused of a lack of transparency in the past, the company now wants its audience to be clear on the changes to the Google privacy policy.

The most significant changes may not necessarily be the small changes, but the fact that these small changes are components of one larger change – the change to over 60 different privacy policies across Google territories, which are now replaced by one single policy. The theme of the change, which will be enacted on March 1, 2012 is “One policy, one Google experience.”

According to Search Engine Journal, the new change will allow Google to collect data across all of their products and further customize your web experience:

For example, if you spent the last hour searching for information about the New England Patriots, the next time you visit YouTube, there’s a good chance you will get recommendations for videos featuring Tom Brady. In addition, Google will be able to use the extra data to customize suggested search queries, display more relevant ads (i.e. Super Bowl tickets), and alter the search results to match your intent.

Google claims that the effort is aimed at providing a more personalized search experience, with ads that are more relevant to the user. However, privacy advocates are more than a little concerned, as Google will now be capable of collecting information from some mobile phone users and using their data to “personalize” their experience on all Google accounts they hold, whether on that same mobile or their PC. There are personal profile issues at stake as well.

One thing Google wants users to remember? Google representative Betsy Masiello reminded users in a recent blog post that users don’t have to be logged in to use many of Google’s products, including search and YouTube. No data is collected when a user is not logged in. In short, don’t be logged into any Google account if you would like your search history to remain private.

Google Panda 3.2

Search Plus Your WorldGoogle has confirmed reports of a Panda update, with a data refresh of the Google Panda algorithm about a week ago. According to Search Engine Land, there have been no algorithm changes, yet some webmasters have seen changes to their rankings – some good, some bad. Most of that is likely attributed to updates to the sites that should or should not have been touched by Panda in its early stages. This simple data refresh is being coined Google Panda 3.2. For those who were adversely affected by the original Google Panda, it may be good news. For those who weren’t, it may be wise to keep an eye on your rankings.

Changes to Google=Controversy

No stranger to controversy, Google is already experiencing backlash from these changes, in the form of criticism from ordinary users and search engine experts alike. In addition to raising the aforementioned privacy concerns, some are making the point that Google has already failed as a search engine in terms of providing relevancy. Case in point: Google Rick Santorum. Whether or not you’re a fan, ask yourself: Is that what most users who enter his name into a search engine are looking for? Most likely not, but its even worse when one considers this: according to a recent Search Engine Land post, Google’s universal search shows an irrelevant video result for a spammy SEO firm attempting to capitalize on the Santorum controversy, on the first page!

With that in mind, will changes to Google Panda and the privacy policy prevent users from experiencing irrelevant search results? People in the spotlight, or anyone who stands to be googled with relative frequency, should probably hope so. Today, the most infamous example is the above-mentioned Presidential candidate. Tomorrow, it may be someone else. For the sake of everyone who is, or aims to be, a highly searched on public figure, the search community should hope that Google can achieve this “more relevant search experience” goal ASAP; this Los Angeles SEO provider certain does.

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