Google Desktop: Total Search Recall

December 13th, 2004


I find it humbling to remember that in an age of ultra-multi-tasking, that the human mind can still only concentrate on one thing at any given time. This limits our memories and what we can expect to retrieve from them. Photographic memory is one thing, but if you’re talking in class, rather than listening to the prof, you still risk being embarrased when he calls on you. After all, how can you expect to remember the lecture if you are busy yapping?

What a gift it would be to possess photographic “peripheral memory”. Imagine being able to “remember” and explore conversations in full detail that you weren’t actually paying attention to when they occured.

Welcome to desktop search — Google desktop search, in particular. This will be a game changer for natural search optimization. For retailers, desktop search means all of a sudden, you’re playing the search game – whether by purpose or by accident.

With Google Desktop installed, any web page that your visitors have accessed, or any email they have received in their Outlook inbox (or web-based email clients like Hotmail or Yahoo mail), is now fodder for ANY future Google search they do. More importantly, those pages are given top-position on the page for keyword matches that may be – and this is the critical point – completely unrelated to what the customer was looking for when they originally visited that web page. Forget photographic memory. Peripheral memory is here.

For Google desktop users, this means that whether you intend it or not, your site and emails are already “indexed” for them by virtue of their viewing those pages. This provides the unfair advantage, the ultimate shortcut to the top of the Google results pile. No site restructuring or bloody IT battles. Just leveraging your existing customer traffic! Your mission is to make sure your copy, links, headings and titles are appropriately keyworded, in order to show up as more relevant than the OTHER sites that are in Google Desktop’s cache.

Adoption is still low. But as it grows Google Desktop (and other desktop search engines), raise the stakes for search engine optimization to keep drawing traffic. It will affect not only your web site, but your email campaigns which will also need to be carefully constructed to target the right keywords. This will enable retailers to extend the shelf life of campaigns and maximize repeat-traffic potential of existing customer visitors for months after they have forgotten about you.

Customers have better things to do than think about you all day long. Google desktop helps them “remember” things about you — things that they never even knew.