In what’s quite possibly the most surprising update yet, Google seem to have rolled out a local dating feature!
According to a Google spokesperson,
“This was supposed to be launched for Valentine’s Day, but we wanted to get Google Match perfect before it went live. What makes Google Match so unique is our ability to connect users to their perfect match, based on search history and browsing data. Unlike most online dating services that will match you based on how honestly you fill in your profile, we can match you accurately with other users in your local area that share your personal interests and browsing behaviour.”
What many people are finding troubling, however, is the opt-out rather than opt-in availability of it. By default, Google is treating all its users as single and what’s more astonishing is that they are publicly displaying personal user information such as home address and/or telephone number (which, for obvious reasons, we’ve blurred out in the screen shot). If a home address is listed, Google even give you the ability to get directions! This feature alone has garnered mass outrage with users claiming that they have never given Google their address and phone number, demanding an explanation from Google as to where they got this information from.
(Clicking “More people” on results page takes you to Google Maps:)
Clicking individual match icons in Google Maps will open a search page of that person’s associated web properties across the internet, including social media profiles, photos, blogs and websites. Making online stalking super easy in advance of you calling them or promptly driving to their home unannounced.
Despite the mass privacy concerns, lots of single users have been praising Google for the daring addition to their search engine, and asking whether there will be premium features for paid users.
In response to this, Google have just announced:
“Within the next couple of weeks, users will be able to register an Adwords account to boost their position in the rankings. Currently, users are algorithmically ranked based on relevance, Personal Quality Score and proximity to the searcher. Your Personal Quality Score comprises many factors including physical appearance, intelligence and sense of humour. Those with a Personal Quality Score of 4 will tend to not appear for searches by users with a score of 6 or above, unless they are extremely well-matched in terms of interests and browsing behaviour. When we roll out the paid features, users will be able to boost their Personal Quality Score and bid for higher ranking positions for certain types of singles in their area.”
Traditional Google advertisers are speculating that Google is using Google Match to tap into a different market of advertisers beyond just businesses, cleverly using the user data which they already have available and expanding on their existing local search system.
Using SEO to influence Match ranking
Although only very newly released, Google has already inadvertently created a new branch of SEO – and, with it, spam. Since its roll-out this morning, I have already received a number of phone calls from Indian call centres trying to sell me cat products, having browsed cat websites all day from a Southend IP and before searching for singles in the area. SEO professionals will be at an obvious advantage in using the dating feature, as they can use their professional skills to boost their Personal Quality Score and attract more eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, ensuring only their most attractive of qualities (and online properties) end up being indexed by Google. So good luck to all you single SEOs out there!
Oh, and by the way… Happy April Fool’s Day.
(In case it wasn’t obvious, nothing in this article is true.)