73% of people in a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project survey said they would not be okay with a search engine tracking their moves and using them to deliver better results in the future.
Bet that number didn’t surprise you at all, did it? You also won’t be surprised to know that they thought tracking was an invasion of privacy.
65% even went so far as to say that search result collection is a bad thing. A very bad thing. Which kind of takes us into Twilight Zone territory. It’s the story of a small search engine that slowly and secretively collects information from everyone in the world until it becomes powerful enough to destroy all humans! Only then, it realizes that without humans, it has no purpose and dies from the lack of being needed.
Overly dramatic? Well, that’s how I feel about these people who get upset over Internet tracking.
29% of people have seen the light (or drunk the Kool-Aid, depending on your point of view.) They understand that tracking is a good thing because it helps return more relevant results.
The problem is that most people don’t know about what’s working for them behind the scenes. They have no idea what’s being tracked or how, or how that information figures into their results.
What they do know, is that they get good results. 91% said they find what they’re looking for always or most of the time. 73% say they trust the information they find and 55% say that the quality of search returns has risen.
It’s risen because we do track. Because search engines are smarter and it’s the user who benefits in the end. Less time spent searching, means less frustration, could mean getting a better deal on a product. More relevant results could mean the difference between life or death. Think I’m still being dramatic?
In 2010, 175 million people went online to look up healthcare information. 32% of those surveyed said they do it often. Harris Polls calls those people Cyberchondriacs but the reality is, the internet has the information we need. Information that could send someone to their doctor in time or keep them from mixing medications that don’t mix.
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but search engine results are better because we can track. As a marketer, it’s your job to teach your customers that tracking is good for you. It’s not Big Brother. It’s not scary. And if you’re not looking up anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about and everything to gain.