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Personalized Search Now Default
SEO and Privacy forever changed

 12:16 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google Blog [googleblog.blogspot.com]
Today we're helping people get better search results by extending Personalized Search to signed-out users worldwide

That's a staggering statement meaning that every computer accessing Google is now being personalized, signed in or not, so any desktop, laptop or kiosk will start tracking everything everyone does and you won't be able to access the same search results from any two machines.

The possible impact to all is staggering.



 6:02 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

BTW.. When Brussels gets to hear of the privacy implications on this move by Gorg they will start moving for European legislation to hand the plex their "back off" notices ..

Of course the USA , UK and other areas might just bow to corporate lawyer pressure and forget their citizens rights ..


 6:03 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Under the new concept and only using G search I will never even realize that specialist site exists.

Are you suggesting that Google personalized search will show only sites that you've visited, as opposed to weighting results to favor sites that you have a history of preferring in searches on topics that bring up those sites' pages?


 6:22 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi guys...

After reading all of your comments...I'm still a bit confused as to why everyone is so mad?

I'm still seeing the same amount of traffic to my site as it was prior to this change going into effect.

Can someone break this down so that slow people like me can comprehend?



 6:24 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Signor John,

Not only, but I suspect that those sites the user has shown a preference for will be shown higher in the results, and if you combine that with G's own properties News, Images, Adwords, Maps, Youtube the user may not even see that Jewell is available unless the user is determined to dig deeper.

Don't think any of us know how this will be implemented so we will see,

My own concern is twofold

New sites unless they have massive budgets will never be found

Old sites rely to a degree on new visitors in addition to those visitors who trust that old site , but it is possible under this scenario old sites without large budgets to continue advertising and be seen alongside the preferred sites of that visitor will have less opportunity to be found

Only my own thoughts and may be very very wrong but this could work very much against the small to medium webmaster who has created a specialist niche site because if this is the first time the visitor is investigating that niche his search history could well take precedence.


 6:32 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google personalized search = dull results = dull web

But hey - at least Google ads will be ever changing and more appealing to be clicked on! :)

It's good we have an alternative - Bing it on!

Hopefully Microsoft is smart enough to bring AS MUCH RESOURCES to improve Bing as possible because NOW is the best time for them to do it.

[edited by: fargo1999 at 6:39 pm (utc) on Dec. 5, 2009]


 6:38 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

So is this live? We have not notice any significant changes yet either.


 6:38 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

So how many webmasters have added a BING search box to their pages?


 6:43 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google is like a big balloon and they can't resist inflating it a little more. In fact they have established an organisation that either resigns or keeps blowing. One day someone will blow that little bit too much and ...

If only they could slow down a bit 18 months more and I'll have paid off my mortgage.




 6:43 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Don't think any of us know how this will be implemented so we will see

My thoughts exactly. However, I don't think Google is likely to be satisfied with results that freeze out "the small to medium webmaster who has created a specialist niche site." Personalized search may incorporate a weighting factor based on past user search behavior, but I think that's all it will do. It's likely to be an incremental enhancement, not a total overhaul. After all, Google Search is Google's core product, and why would Google risk killing its cash cow?


 6:47 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yet another reason why all of you SHOULD NOT RELY ON GOOGLE FOR CUSTOMERS.

Also, it doesn't really matter what you want, it's what the consumer wants. If the consumer is happy to have his results tailored to his/her needs, then why would Google remove it? Google's going to do what's best for the consumer, not what's best for the sites dominating the ranks.


 6:48 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

My Own Example Of how personalized search could ruin the user experience

When I travel I have 3 specific Hotel Chains I like so currently my search result might be Hotel xxville

Currently the chances under personilsed search are those hotel chains WILL show up in my results if they have a Hotel in xxville

Now I have decided I want to go to New Orleans ( MODS sorry about specific but does provide good example )

The reason I go to New Orleans is I want to stay in old hotels that are not chains and because of that have a very specific charm that I love.

So I type in my normal search query
Hotels New Orleans

Now what comes up as results "the chains" because G knows I like those hotels in which case the results will not actually match what I wanted or will it know that I want real results

Just my own type of example where it is possible that Personalized search will leave me the searcher disappointed, also the sites that are no longer listed

We will see how this pans out but could work in favour for some searches but against other searches and also will always favour the Internet's BIG Boys.


 6:55 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

On this occasion I can't understand what all the fuss is about.

Google claimed to have 200 ranking factors at the last count. My guess is this is number 201 and as such will be mixed with the others rather than overriding them.

For those worrying about launching new sites - Have you tried to launch a new site since 2002? It's tough these days. I could see this helping new sites. If everybody loves them perhaps they will appear in search faster. If people hate the new site then perhaps it won't appear quite so quickly.

For privacy it's an anonymous cookie - they don't know who you are and it's it's the same cookie they've always sent you. Why bother about it now? Personally I've always blocked it, but that's only because I worried about it before.

We complained about the ajax serps where we couldn't tell what people were searching for when they landed on our site. Personally I prefer that data collection to be handled by cookies.

Yes they could do a little more evil, but they changed their catchline a little while back so they don't claim that they don't.


 7:07 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Bing it on!

I am not enthusiastic about a company that has bitten me in more ways than I can begin to count - and a company that has been a lot less transparent than Google. This entire thread exists because Google told us, UP FRONT, what they are doing. I do not trust Microsoft to be nearly as transparent as Google has been. Beautiful photography is not sufficient amends for their past sins.

There are new ways of acquiring traffic today, and there will be many more because the web is very young. I think digital marketers should embrace and create many ways of generating traffic and not be stuck on traditional search. Search engine technology requires a huge company, and size alone brings imbalance and inequities. Why empower that in any form?

The promise of the web has been a somewhat more level playing field, a lower cost of entry -- and that promise still exists. The main thing I watch out for is Google, or anyone, building a vertical monopoly -- especially when that monopoly happens through acquisition rather than innovation.

I don't see this Google announcement as creating a new privacy issue. The privacy issues involved are far from unique to Google, at any rate. The only way this generates a further privacy violation is if you let someone else use your computer so they can see how your search results are being bent.

Isn't the big concern here over how this impacts SEO? Well, the switch to opt-out from opt-in has occurred, at least for cookie-based histories. What results are we seeing?

I'd say this change will benefit the solid company that has not done a good job with SEO so far. The balance will shift a bit, from customer acquisition to customer retention. Well-optimized sites may start losing business to poorly optimized sites that have happy customers.


 7:31 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is nothing more than behavioural targeting right?

These bean counters just don't get it. It may work in the lab, or the logs may show that ROI sky rockets but in the real world it just does not work.

I've said before about another company which planned to do this. Behavioural Targeting just does not work in reality.

The google blog guy gives a few examples. Before I give a few more let me just say that the google blog guy doesn't know how to use a browser. If he wants to search for recipes and always be shown epicurious first: BOOKMARK! If he searches for big red and wants to visit cornellbigred: BOOKMARK!

Examples of where B.T. does not work.

The Anniversary
A couple are approaching their 25th wedding anniversary. The wife (first to remember) searches for anniversary presents each day and is tempted with the Classic Car Experience Day.

A week later the husband realises the pending anniversary and decides to search for anniversary presents. The Classic Car Experience is shown first and he now works out his wife's surprise gift for him.

The Expectant Couple
A couple are trying for a baby. For weeks they search for baby information and after a while their ads / searches are continually showing prams, diapers, toys.

Sadly the couple can not conceive, or lose the baby. They now wish to search for baby support groups but they still keep seeing ads and sites for prams, diapers, toys.

The Cure for Buyers Remorse
A novice wishes to purchase a new camera. He spends weeks reading reviews of cameras and finds that a particular Canolympikon model is the best. He reads lots of reviews for that camera model and visits various sites to check prices.

One day he purchases the camera. Now he needs to know how to get the best out of it but every time he searches he sees sites / ads for reviews and prices of that camera model.

In all three of those cases B.T. fails. It fails the user because they are not getting the pages they want. It fails the advertiser because the users are just not going to click on them.


 7:49 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

What it means is that you have to start getting visitors the way it was done pre 1995 - get out those flyers, t-shirts, promotional gifts, etc, etc, - its back to the Future.
If analytics shows your site getting visitors independent of the SE's - direct traffic from diverse IP's - it will make you more attractive to those same Search Engines.


 8:11 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't know what it means for websites or website owners. All-things-equal, it should be a push referral wise (might actually help with conversions - yet to be seen - yet to be seen).

However as a searcher, the traditional process of refining additional search queries is tainted and corrupted. As a whole, I find the results to be unreliable and confusing. It is further a mess in that I use two machines at work, one at home, and two regular laptops. Often, several of them at the same time via remote viewing. It sucks to do a query on one machine and flip over to another and not be able to find the same results.

They tested personalized search as a default earlier last week. I ran into it and it took 4-8 additional searches to get the personalized junk out of the serps and get valid dependable results. I had actually nuked my cookies before I realized I was not logged in. Regardless of claims by Google - there is no reasonable way to turn it off and keep it off between multiple systems and multiple users.

I believe with this option turned on by default Google will see better short term results in the form of increased searches and on site time at Google. However, it is short sighted and will hurt them in the long term.

Net result - a win for other search engines and a loss for Google users.


 8:33 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

but to those of us who grew up with the old Coca-Cola and said "No" to New Coke, the power of the marketplace can be a wonderful thing.

The deal with this switch was using a cheapened form of sugar cane in New Coke, which Coca Cola expected by be rejected by the masses. The corporation then re-introduced "Original" Coke back in with a substantially reduced quality cane from the original, but not as bad as New Coke.

Thereby, fooling us all into paying the same price for a far less quality soda. Many people did not notice because they were so happy to have original Coke back. This is not by idea of Democracy, it's more like being manipulated by a large Corporation for their needs.

Does it matter if people did not know? Of course it does. We are all drinking a less quality product for the original price.


 8:41 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

From tedster:
The balance will shift a bit, from customer acquisition to customer retention. Well-optimized sites may start losing business to poorly optimized sites that have happy customers.

A few things to think about... (questions are hypothetical):

- tedster's comment above is exactly why SEOs are unhappy about Personalization.

- With online search, users expect variety--even if their previous 10 searches (and subsequent clicks) were directed at a particular site.

- What if your previous 10 searches (and clicks) become the 10 results delivered whenever you search using the same keyword? How long will page 1 be "sculpted," or personalized? Until your browser cache is cleared? Will those 10 personalized results be ranked according to how often you clicked on them?

- People are, by nature, skeptical when they think (or know) they're being followed. We're okay with it when shopping in a market or gambling in Vegas (i.e. surveillance cameras for security, and for the protection of private property); or while surfing the web at work (i.e. employee time utilization, which is driven by company productivity standards). What is Google's interest in following us? (Personalized SERPS = More money?)

- Sites currently sitting on pages 1 and 2 of the SERPS, through Personalization, will get the majority of clicks. This will seemingly keep them hovering around pages 1 and 2. In other words--IBLs, SEO, and being an authority in your niche--may not matter much anymore.

- It's Google's ball--if we don't like it, we can stop playing their game and play someone else's. As painful as it may be, this will likely have to occur to bring about effective competition.


 9:02 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Seems like this is an over reaction to something which will not greatly affect most of us. [some] have been predicting the end of the world caused solely by Google's manipulation of data for several years. I'm still standing and so are most of you. Here's my prediction, most of us will still be here in five years time, health permitting.

Don't like it? Stop using it. It's that simple.

As far as I can understand if you visit a widget site you will get widget ads for 99% of the time. When there are no widgets ads to display then you will get (in a tiny minority of cases) an ad based on your browsing history.

For years, your browsing history has been captured. Every single site you visited has been stored. It's just that now, in a few cases, this information will be used to determine what ad is displayed. No big deal.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 10:06 pm (utc) on Dec. 5, 2009]
[edit reason] lets leave the personal stuff at the door... [/edit]


 9:07 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's just that now, in a few cases, this information will be used to determine what ad is displayed.

But this change is not about advertising - it's about the organic search results. That means it could be a bigger deal.


 9:12 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not sure if anyone has noticed, but logged in users were served with personalised results for quite some time now. When showing ranking samples to a client I always remind him to log out from Google.

Now the personalised results are available for logged out users, which I agree it can hurt, but since those are based on the user's search history it seems to me that maybe 2-3 results will be personalised and the rest organic.

If say the first two results are from the history, this means that the user has visited these pages quite often (and knows their content) and according to my "way" of logic, he will be likely to visit pages ranked below the top spots more often than previously.

Don't see this as much as a drastic change as most participants on this topic. I.e. I don't think we should expect a drastic drop in traffic as a result of this new Google feature.


 9:25 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

from the write-up on their blog it reads like a self-reinforcing search engine. So things just got better for you re readers who already like your site, but more challenging re everyone else.


 10:01 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think they have just done it so that webmasters see their site at #1 all the time and stop trying to beat the algo.

Its a kind of early Christmas present for the stupid site owner.




 10:05 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

> Not sure if anyone has noticed, but logged
> in users were served with personalised results for quite some time now

Yes, every one noticed WHEN LOGGED IN - but few login in intentionally. It is only because they are logged into some other g service.


 10:27 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Re: @nomis5 "Don't like it? Stop using it. It's that simple."

Yep, that's what ol' GOOG has said, all along. It's "sort of" simple... I've jumped through hoops to stop using it on my Safari toolbar.

Too bad lots more webmasters haven't "stopped using it" as the search engine on their websites. GOOG is pretty deeply embedded in the WWW, has been for many years. Almost analogous to AOL and other bloatware on fresh Windoze installs.

GOOG now serves me before I ask: aren't they bound to bring the wrong cookies for dessert, sometimes? BWC. GOOG does know evil.


 10:58 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

"I absolutely agree that SEO professionals will get hurt by this "

Not totally. As with anything that adds a complicted element to the mix, people who are aware of it will do better than those who won't. True, massive sites (most especially Amazon) will benefit hugely from this at the expense of niche authority sites, but well SEO-ed niche authority sites will benefit at the expense of the know-nothing-about-seo sites.

It just became more important to attract search traffic that has no monetary value because that will help you rank better for money terms. That part of this is like a gift from God to seos.


 11:00 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Charlie who builds a site that offers cheap hotel rooms to business travelers with tiny expense accounts will not be found in the beginning UNLESS he spends significant amounts on ADWORDS

Charlie better hope he doesn't have any affiliate ads on that cheap hotel rooms site of his, because if he does his AdWords account will be wacked in short order!


 11:03 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

So things just got better for you re readers who already like your site...

This is sort of how I see it.

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Google historically has been a hit and miss search engine because of its constant tweaking to its algorithm.

Typical users do not seem to use the browsers bookmark function for whatever reason, and instead just Google using the term they expect will give them the site they want on the first page. (using the term they first used to find the site)

That works for them for a while...
But with the ever changing algorithm, ranks fluctuate and all of a sudden the site they want to visit is not where they "expected" it to be, that causes them to search again, but this time append the site name or part of the URL to the search term till they find the site they want.

This tells Google that when this particular person searches the term "Blue Widgets" (which they do a few times a week) there actually looking for the site MyBlueWidgets.com because that's the site they always visit after searching that term. (regardless of where it is on the first page)

So Google now knows what they want because of there past history and will place that site at the top of the results for them whenever they search for that term. (How can this be bad)

The next time Google do any tweaking, this person is not going to get frustrated because the site they want to visit has vanished from the first page.

To assume Google will start ranking MyBlueWidgets.com at the top of the results when the same person searches for "Green Widgets" is just that, an assumption.

If Google were to fill the first page with sites you have visited in the past for any query, then people will leave them in droves. I doubt they are that silly.

I believe this will be used for those that search the same term repeatedly then visit the same site repeatedly. But that's just my opinion and have no qualifications to back it up.

Sharing my opinion.



 11:07 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

"So how many webmasters have added a BING search box to their pages?"

Bing/Live/MSN has been more personalized search focused than Google from day one. They geolocate searches like [astronomy] and [genghis khan]. Bing would do this in a second if they were technically more competent. There is no savior on this isue coming from Redmond.


 11:11 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

@tattoos - yes. I was constructing an anecdote earlier today (in response to the earlier comment about the Google bloggers not understanding bookmarks) about watching my daughters use the web before I deleted it for fear I was heading a little OT. But just as you describe, both of them appear to have no clue what "bookmarks" are. I haven't shown them, and they would appear from my observations to have no knowledge of their existence. It's just like the other menu items they don't use. The technique they both have adopted to return to their favourite and often frequented websites was, to my initial surprise, by keying in the website title into the search engine. No www dot anything. Just "Webmaster World" (if it were here they were wishing to return to). These are sites they go to several times a day, yet they "search" for it each time over and over using the same search term.

[edited by: davelms at 11:19 pm (utc) on Dec. 5, 2009]


 11:16 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Typical users do not seem to use the browsers bookmark function for whatever reason,

"Typical users" don't read books and thus dont know what a bookmark is ..try watching "typical users" ..and then look around you ..you wont see books ..just TV guides ..

There is no savior on this isue coming from Redmond.

Not in the USA ..but in Europe they have been repeatedly smacked on the nose and brought to heel ..so they would'nt dare ..here ..

Goog have yet to learn that you cant buy ( whoops ..lobby ) 27 differing heads of state or governments ..

edited ..@davelms ..you had n't posted when I started typing ..so that was not meant to reflect upon you ..( but I would suggest that you try to get your kids to understand that the pictures in their heads are better when they read books or listen to the radio than when they use the web ) ..

My comment is based on what I suspect is common to all of us here..if your acquaintances ..get to know you use the net for business ..you get asked to "take a look" because "it isn't workin"/ "kids broke it" /"has maybe a virus" ..

Usually the result of pron or P2P ..

But the same people are customers of someone ..and they think books ..are for school or "intelekchewuls" ..and ( especially the idea of you possesing thousands in your own house ) is weird ..

But they have disposable income ..credit cards ..cars outside ..and computers with internet access ..and are someones customer ..and GORG knows them and loves them ..just like a farmer loves his cows ..

and knows that they wont opt out ..even if they knew they were opted in ..because it would mean understanding too many long words ..and "anyway ..if they can get youtube and pron and warez and ripped movies ..and GORG helps them find all that and more ..including the illegal stuff ..why do they care ..

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