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Personalized Search Now Default

SEO and Privacy forever changed

     
12:16 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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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.

12:37 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Here's something from the article that can be important for SEOs:

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).

Even so - you know the average user will not be doing any of that - and neither will the average client, until you explain it to them eleventy-eleven times.

This just feels so very wrong-headed that the mind boggles! As I often explain to IT staff, NOT EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE PROGRAMMED SHOULD BE PROGRAMMED.

1:09 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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note if you are running any browser and have it tweaked to use the google search beta ( with column on the left ) then you will not see the "web history" link at top right and will need to manually go into your cookie store and remove the all google cookies ..

if you later sign in to any google service you will need to mark all cookies "save this session only" ( or remove them after using google services and prior to continuing your session )..or to manually delete them for instance when you have read your gmails or whatever ..otherwise you will be signed in and "personalised AKA tracked" by default until you remove the cookies even if you reboot ..

you will need to sanitize each browser ..and remember to keep them thus ..always

thanks incrediBill for spotting this ..

welcome to the GORG

interestingly ..for those who like to surf pron ..in order to get unfiltered results ..or to enable safe results ( the default "cookieless" search ..is "moderately safe" ) ..like for your kids ..you will have to accept a google preferences cookie ..so your kids will be tracked ..as will you ..wether or not you surf pron ..unless you want them to see what Goog considers moderately safe

Evil ? ..you betcha!

1:31 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Does this pretty much make checking your place in the serps meaningless?

Off to your log file refers see what page the visitor found your site on?

1:56 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Do enough people even understand this on the most basic level, to bring it to the attention of privacy advocates in the legislatures worldwide? I mean after all, Microsoft has gotten slapped down in the European market for their sins. Is the concept of "opt in" now gone forever (if I understand this correctly, tracking is default; opt-out is the option). Is there any hope of a reversal on that sort of privacy rights basis? And let's remember, if Google can do it then a precedent is set, so everyone else can do the same (presumably, including MS). Huge can of worms...

.........................

1:59 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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In my experience it's not easy to keep Google search history turned off. I've turned it off several tines in the past and then later discovered that it had somehow been turned back on without my knowledge.
2:16 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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"Today we're helping people"

Which people might that be? The ones who don't want the best results for a query?

Google swallows the personalized search boondoggle whole, and ruins their search results at the same time.

One more instance of Google deluding themselves into thinking they do something pretty good when in fact they utterly suck at it.

3:24 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Even so - you know the average user will not be doing any of that - and neither will the average client, until you explain it to them eleventy-eleven times. This just feels so very wrong-headed that the mind boggles!

It doesn't "Boggle" at all. Wake up, people.

The time to protest, complain, rant and rave is NOW.
2 years ago, in fact.
Do something! say something!

GOOGLE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. THEY VIEW YOUR BUSINESS AS AN ENEMY and ONLY have their OWN interest at heart

welcome to the GORG

agreed.

THIS ANNOUNCEMENT SHOULD BE THE FINAL WAKE UP CALL[/b]
to what Goog's about.

[edited by: tedster at 2:07 am (utc) on Dec. 6, 2009]

4:37 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Does this pretty much make checking your place in the serps meaningless?

I wouldn't exactly say it's meaningless. If a user has not established a pattern of preference in a given search area, then they can't really be served personalized SERPs.

But it certainly does change the game. It becomes even more important to get users to click early in the purchase cycle, when they're just gathering information and building their history in the market niche. Any business model that is based only on point-of-sale pages should expand it now or begin to atrophy.

There's something about always getting personalized search results that is socially troubling, too. I can see it creating a kind of ostrich phenomenon, where the average user is less and less exposed to anything new. I noticed this happening in my own online news consumption several years ago, and took intentional steps to make sure I got out of my own preferential areas.

-----

How about a highly visible toggle right on the search page that says

Personalized Results: ON - OFF

Then EVERY user would begin to get the message that Google is collecting and storing their data. Would Google consider that level of transparency too much for their taste? Do they want every user to know what's happening with their data?

4:52 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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From the Google page about how to turn off personalized search:

Note: If you've disabled search customizations, you'll need to disable it again after clearing your browser cookies; clearing your Google cookie turns on history-based customizations.

..in other words, they will keep sending a new cookie and keep spying on you over and over again.

Here's my answer to how to turn off Google Personalized Search: DON'T USE GOOGLE.

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