A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on how Google+ could affect the future of SEO. The search giants foray into social media is part of an ongoing strategy to encourage users to log into Google so they can build a more accurate profile on the user in order to serve more relevant results in organic and paid search listings.

This morning I noticed an enticing link at the top of the paid listings asking me “Why these ads?”. “Why not?” I think…. I followed the link fully expecting to get an explanation of quality scores and the bidding process for keywords. Instead I was taken here where Google explain how ads are served to individuals based on their search history and how they are trying to improve the ads you are served.

Google has put you in a box based on your search history cookie. It turns out on my Google has put me in the 35-44 male box, who likes sports (specifically Soccer and Golf), Arts & entertainment (with a particular preference for comedies and Westerns), internet and telecommunications (specifically Search Engines and SEO) and World localities (Europe and the UK).

This is all scarily accurate. I’ve recently invested in a new set of Golf clubs, and being English I do like to keep an eye on what is going on in the Premier League (and League 2 – Up the Gills!). When it comes to my taste in films, if Clint Eastwood isn’t in it, then it had better be funny. My interest in SEO is pretty obvious given my career choice. Male, they had a 50/50 chance so could be a lucky guess. And putting me in the 35-44 age category can only down to my splendid mustache which I have been cultivating for Movember, which has added a good 10 years to my appearance.

Google offers the option to remove or edit any of these categories at any time. Again, this is to help them profile your interests even more accurately to serve you relevant ads. To view and edit your own profile follow this link and click on Ads on the Web on the left hand side.

You can also block ads from specific advertisers if they are not relevant or your just don’t want to see ads from a particular advertiser (you can also do this in organic listings, so if you don’t like the listing at number 1 you can block them and never be bothered by their site again).

You can opt out of personalised ads, but Google suggests that, as they have a better idea of what you might be looking for, those who are opted in:

  • See 28% fewer ads than opted-out users
  • Are 55% more likely to click on ads than opted-out users

Google also suggests we are going to start seeing a lot more remarketing based on your search history rather than just the ads you have clicked on, e.g. yesterday you searched for a hotel in Melbourne, today you do a completely unrelated search but still get served a few Melbourne hotel ads.

I can see how many people could find this extremely intrusive. Personally, I use Google as a tool to find information, local businesses and shopping so the fact that they know me better than some members of my family isn’t such a bad thing. And in the run up to Christmas it could be worth you sending your profile to your loved ones so you get something that you actually like this year.

Nathan is a Campaign Manager at Webfirm. Webfirm is a Digital Agency specialising in Online Marketing. Talk to us today about your Online Marketing needs – phone us on 1300 932 347 or email us at info@webfirm.com.


Image credit Edgeworks Limited on Flickr