A Personalized News Feed Is Coming To Google On iOS And Android

Social Media Week

The last time Google changed its homepage, “Macarena” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Soon, mobile will get an update.

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Google.com, the most visited website on the internet per Alexa, has had the same, stark design and layout for more than 20 years. This week, the digital giant has announced that it will be making significant changes to the homepage in the form of a personalized feed of relevant news and information. For now, the changes will only apply to the mobile web.

Did you just hear “personalized feed” and shudder? Google’s comms team definitely anticipated this reaction, which is why they’re emphasizing that the feed will include counter-opinions and the opportunity to fact check when possible. No bubbles here—at least, that’s the PR angle.

Image via The Verge

Google’s personalized news space will be a lot different than that of Facebook, the social network that’s commonly associated with the notion of a “feed.” TechCrunch is dubbing Google’s new feature a “friendless feed,” since it will only contain content from third-party sources: No engagement photos, and certainly no “Which ‘Friends’ character are you?” quizzes.

So, what can we expect to see in our mobile Google feeds? “You’ll see cards with things like sports highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more,” said Shashi Thakur, vice president of engineering at Google in the official blog announcement. “Your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world.”

Google’s impetus seems to be ensuring that they maintain their stickiness among consumers. In the blog post, Google offered that “it’s hard to find one place to stay in the know about exactly what matters to you.” One could argue that Facebook’s News Feed aligns with this same mission, although the environment also contains a lot of things that don’t necessarily matter to users: like unwanted ads.

Beyond the obvious user implications, there are also implications for marketers. Experts predict that the changes will present new challenges for SEO, as publishers and content creators will have to find ways to optimize for the feed for maximum eyeballs. Google isn’t saying whether it will be wedging sponsored content into the environment, but we can assume so given that advertising is Google’s No. 1 business.

The new experience is currently available in the Google app for U.S.-based Android and iOS users with an international roll-out scheduled to unfold in the next couple of weeks.

Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

Katie Perry is a marketing & content strategist and contributor to SMW News, a leading news platform covering startups, tech, brands and the future of work. You can follow Katie on Twitter at @katieeperry.

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