Watch Out! You’re About to Become a Query

digital busstop-com's "Big browser is watching you" image

digitalbusstop-com’s “Big browser is watching you” image

If you read the Wikipedia definition of “query,” you’ll learn that a web search query in computing is a “query entered by users into web search engines.”

What’s your favorite web search engine?  If you’re located here in the U.S., you’re likely to respond by stating, “Google,” “Yahoo,” or “Bing.”  If you live outside of the U.S., your answer could be the same or may be different.  In France, for example, you might offer up, “Voila,” as your response to the question.

What type of technology platform do you use most often to perform web search queries?  For example, do you most often conduct online searches using your mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer?

Since the latest technology industry stats are predicting that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common way to access the web by 2014, I would venture to guess that your response to the previous question might be, “mobile phone.”

Speaking of mobile computing and its potential impact on search engine optimization (SEO), did you by chance catch Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s videotaped interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week?

I enjoyed hearing Mayer’s predictions about the future of mobile computing and SEO, and I especially enjoyed hearing her predictions about how the concepts of personalization and customized search engine results will impact SEO moving forward.  Mayer suggested that personalization won’t replace search in the future but will become a critical part of search, stating:

“One provocative way to think about it is this…a lot of folks say, when you type into the search box, that’s your query.  In the future, you become the query…it’s what you type, it’s your background, it’s where you are, it’s your preferences, it’s what you looked at yesterday…and the search box can take all that as the input and come up with a set of results that are customized for you.  And, the nice thing is that if you’re the query, then 1-you can actually explicitly type in search terms, or you could just be the query passively…this is the notion that if we can pick up on your context…who you’re talking to, where you are, then can we actually provide useful information or a series of links, pictures, videos that are actually more useful in your current context because of that context?”

What do you think of Mayer’s suggestion that you, as a user of search engines, will become the query in the future?  Do you like the idea that your online actions, i.e. user preference “signals” that you emit, will be mapped to information supplied by online organizations who will be watching your every online move?  Do you think the benefits that you will gain from a more personalized online search experience in the future will outweigh any concerns you might hold about your online behavior being more closely tracked?

If the idea that your online search behavior will be more closely watched in the future bothers you, you may want to evolve your thinking.  According to Mayer, that future reality may be closer than you think.  “I think it’s probably going to happen in the next three to five years,” Mayer stated in her interview last week.

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