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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Google Shows Survey Questions on Some Health Searches

Help Google improve search results and estimate public health trends

Google announced that they’re starting to show survey questions at the bottom of a small percentage of health-related search queries. For instance, a search for headache may trigger the question: “Did you search because you or someone you know has a headache?”

Why is Google doing this? They say getting better stats can help with flu trends detections, as well as improve the relevancy of Google’s search results in the future. If you participate in the survey, no personal Google Account data will be associated with the results, Google says, though they will in some way use it together with their search server logs, as the FAQ explains (“Google’s servers automatically record information when you respond to this poll, including a cookie, IP address, browser type and language, and the date and time of your answer”).

Search Engine Land has another screenshot, and a couple of more survey questions:

I’m curious how skewed results to such questions could be; for instance, if I search for “reaction to poison ivy”, I might be more inclined to take the time to answer survey questions if I’m doing this as research for homework, versus when I’m actually experiencing the reaction myself.

If you come across such a survey box, please post a screenshot! Google in their FAQ on the subject disclaims though that this experiment will only be displayed for “users from United States IP addresses”.

[Thanks Juha-Matti! Image by Google.]


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