Google has officially confirmed that it uses data it collects from the Google Toolbar to influence search results. But no, Google reasserts, it doesn't use its toolbar to mine search behavior on other search engines in the way that Bing does.
"Yes, Google does see what's happening on Bing, at least for users who've the Google Toolbar installed and configured to use "advanced features" such as the PageRank meter or SearchWiki. But no, Google doesn't use any of that information to reshape its search results, the company says.
"We absolutely don't use search activity on other search engines to influence our search results," said Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow who oversees the search engine's ranking algorithm."
Google sees searches in on other search engines but doesn't use that data? How can that be?
Consider how in the real world, a wheat harvest collect the entire wheat plant but ultimately only uses the grain. Similarly, while Google is "harvesting" search activity along with other user behavior, that search activity is tossed out, Google says.
Other Toolbar Signals Used?
So what Google Toolbar activity is used by Google to improve its search results? Here, Google is staying tight-lipped. The company fears that revealing too many specifics will enable people to harm its search results. There're some things it has confirmed, however. Toolbar data is being used to:
- Measure site speed, which influences rankings
- Detect malware sites, which may cause some sites to get warnings in search results
Clearly, Google's not going to list all the things the toolbar is used for. However, the company did say that it's going to make some general disclosure improvements:
"We're changing the dialog box in toolbar installation to fix some language that, upon review, we found could be clearer," Singhal said.
[tags]google toolbar,bing toolbar,search results,search ranking,ranking signals,ranking algorithm[/tags]