Google Personalised Search Results

Posted 08/04/2009

The results you see when you search Google may not be the same as what other people are seeing.  You may think your website ranks well when you conduct a search, but you may be looking at the search results through rose tinted glasses.

Google will be personalising the results you get based on your your recent search history, your Google Account web searching history, and your location.  In other words, Google tracks what you’ve searched for recently, it monitors the pages that you clicked on, and it learns your preferences.

And Google is personalising these results whether you are logged into your Google account or not.

This can be misleading for those of you who think you are ranking well in Google.  What may be happening is that you are ranking well in your own personalised set of results but these may be quite different to the to the results being seen by the rest of the world.

Let’s look at an example.

When you’re logged into your Google account and conduct a search, keep an eye on the top right corner where Google will alert you to when it is personalising the results as a results of your web searching history:

Google Personalised Search Results

When does Google personalise your results?  Not all the time, but it does let you know when signficant adjustments have been made.  However, at a recent SMX conference, Google indicated that even if the message doesn’t appear, it still may have made slight tweaks regarding the order of the results you are seeing.

Why not click through and take a look at your personalised results:

google_personalised_search_results

This personalisation extends to the order or position of the sites being displayed, but also can influence whether you are seeing site links or not.  When I’m logged into my Google account I see site links for some websites, but when I’m logged out they disappear.

And of course, some of you may be electing to rearrange your search result using Google’s Search Wiki function, which allows you to promote or delete websites from the search results.  This does not appear to have any impact on overall search results at this stage, but it is purely a way of sharing your search experiences.

If you would like a tool that “depersonalises” the search results, then try this:

Yoast’s disable personalised search plugin

Keep in mind however, that whilst you are disabling these results, your prospective customers will have their own search history, influencing their own results!

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