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Disable Personalized Google Web History Not an Option Anymore?

 6:08 pm on Feb 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok, so like I do every morning when checking some key rankings, I go to the web history setting on Google in the browser to make sure it is disabled for personalized search results. But now it makes me sign in to change that setting!?!?! So does that mean they will make me use personalized searches eventually and/or I will have no option but to be signed in to get results that are not personalized? Or will there just be no UN-personalized results anymore? Seems very sneaky.



 7:54 pm on Feb 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

When I click on the gear icon, I see a "web history" choice at the bottom of the drop-down list. There's no problem as far as I can see, the options are still there.

In addition, you can click on the "More search tools" option on the left and choose "Verbatim search" to remove not only personalization but all the extra semantic and "user intention" influences on the results.

The only time your web history ever personalizes results is when you are logged in. There is another kind of cookie-based customization when you're logged out, but it mostly has to do with very recent search history. You can defeat that quite easily by adding &pws=0 to the URL for the search results.


 8:45 pm on Feb 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

What browser and where is the gear option?


 12:49 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am using chrome.. I know the web history button is still there but when you click on it, it has you sign in. Before there was just an option to enable personalized searches or disable. And you don't have to be logged in. It will re enable personalized searches on it's own in time even when not logged in. I am very careful to not search while logged in so i see natural results. To tell you the truth this could just be history based thing while using chrome, but i am pretty sure my clients have done this and they use IE.


 12:53 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

and looking at IE it is there to enable or disable so it is a new change for chrome. And again you dont have to be logged in to get feed personalized results. It sneakly re-enables on its own after you disable it. It might turn on after you have been logged in for awhile or something, but I have not seen a pattern or time frame to get the exact timing of when it re-enables, but it does on its own.


 12:55 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I do half of my searches on Incognito. That might just be my favorite thing on Google Chrome.


 1:08 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Question: If you search via aol.com, won't that show you the non-personalized google SERPs?


 2:48 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think so - but AOL Search results are based on a very much smaller subset of the total Google index.


 2:54 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

This may help clarify our discussion - Google does take two different kinds of actions. One they call "personalization". The other they call "customization".

Check out our help center for more details on personalized search [google.com], how we customize results [google.com] and how you can turn off personalization [google.com].

...and from that last link:

If you aren't signed in to a Google Account, your search experience will be customized based on past search information linked to a cookie on your browser. To disable history-based customizations, follow these steps:
  1. In the top right corner of the search results page, click Web History.
  2. On the resulting page, click Disable customizations.(Because this preference is stored in a cookie, it'll affect anyone else who uses the same browser and computer as you).


 4:26 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

...AOL Search results are based on a very much smaller subset of the total Google index.


I didn't know that. Thanks.


 4:59 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah - it can be a very useful exercise to do a site:example.com search on AOL and see how many of your websites pages are made available through AOL Search.


 6:07 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

The fact is, the security agencies within the US government are looking carefully at anyone these days who still believes they have a right to privacy, and you can bet the farm that behind-the-scenes they are vigorously sending that same signal to the PTB at Google. So while I commend Google for providing some mechanism for protecting at least a modicum of privacy, I have no doubt the pressure is on them to not make it easy, so we should not be surprised if an "opt out option" goes away sooner rather than later.

Does that sound extreme? Go to the source ~ read the FBI's own pdf:
Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities

What Should I Consider Suspicious?

"People Who: Are overly concerned about privacy ... Use of anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address..."

Read the... FBI Memo [info.publicintelligence.net]

Yeah, this memo is about Internet cafes, but it's coming to a room in your house in the near future. The trajectory is obvious, and our grandchildren will someday ask us "what exactly was privacy?"



 6:26 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tedster.. again that is how it works on the other browsers but not on the latest Chrome version. Now the web history link asks you to login and there is no disable feature.. so one of 2 things is happening.. they are either dropping the forced personalized results when not logged in or more likely eventually you will not have a choice and your results will all be custom if you use Chrome.


 7:10 am on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

The bubble thing (http://dontbubble.us/) is why I use more and more duckduckgo, but since they don't have that much traffic I'm still focusing on my google rankings.. I hope one day everyone uses duckduckgo :)


 4:59 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

OK - you convinced me to fire up Chrome. The Google interface is definitely different - there's no gear icon for example. But after I do log in, there is still an option to "disable Web History" under "Account Settings".


 5:17 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

So Chrome's version of Google for me is back what it was and what it is on other browsers.. looks like they were doing some testing for new interfaces.. I hope they never go back!


 9:52 pm on Feb 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

DuckDuckGo may not always be google-free - it already uses bing. From its documentation:

"DuckDuckGo gets its results from over 50 sources, including DuckDuckBot (our own crawler), crowd-sourced sites (in our own index), Yahoo! "BOSS", "embed.ly", "WolframAlpha", "EntireWeb", "Bing" & "Blekko"."


 3:08 pm on Feb 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm not seeing the Options box anymore either. I've used IE and FF and no luck.

I can't decide if I'm going crazy (not finding it) or mad (at it being gone).


 3:44 pm on Feb 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah it is gone again for me (in all browsers).. I think this time it is permanent. I just am not sure if that means they will be not personalizing results when you are not logged in anymore or they will just not give you the option to turn it off anymore.


 4:30 pm on Feb 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Same here. I'm using latest version of FF. If you click on the gear icon > Web History you are directed to a Google accounts page.

I just want to know if customizations are enabled or disabled for users not logged in to Google. My guess is it will be enabled by default and you have to log in to turn it off.


 7:59 pm on Feb 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anyone hear any news about this?

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