Posted December 7, 2009 9:11 am by with 10 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Personalization of search results has long been a point of great interest and contention in the search world. The battle has raged on, particularly regarding Google’s personalization efforts, about privacy for the Google user and how it will affect the search engine optimization industry.

One of the ways that Google’s personalization efforts have been ‘limited’ is that the only people that have any personalization measures applied to them were those who were logged into their Google account. That was the case at least until last Friday when Google announced that their personalization efforts now apply to everyone regardless of whether you have a Google account or not.

cnet reports

Google keeps a history of your Web searches for up to 180 days, using what it says is an anonymous cookie in your browser to track your search queries and the results you most frequently click on. For several years it has allowed those with Google accounts to receive customized search results based on that history, but now even those without Google accounts will receive tailored results based on a history of their search activity, Google said in a blog post late Friday.

So what’s the big deal? Well, if you are an SEO practitioner it means that your job gets a bit harder but this should be no surprise since this change has been happening for years now. What makes this one different is that it now applied to all searches. What is going to make privacy watchdogs antsy is the fact that is an opt-out program. Sure, Google made a nice video and explained this process in their blog but the overwhelming majority of Google users don’t even know Google has a blog and don’t care. Also, they don’t pay attention to this kind of stuff so opting out is a nice PR move but not likely to be widely adopted.

So as to limit the confusion here is Google’s chart on how this whole thing shakes out. Please excuse the quality of the image.

Google Personalization JPEG

Hope Google finds exactly what you are looking for! Don’t forget to opt-out if you’re creeped out!

  • Sum1

    How do you opt-out? Where’s the link?

  • @Sum1 – The video on the Google blog tells how to go about that. Thanks for coming by.
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Taking My Own Advice =-.

  • It seems like I have had my results customized for some time. I have had to clear my cookies often or use the Web developer toolbar (Firefox) to disable them in order to see untainted results.

  • This shift (with Google having over 60% of searches) will make the SEM companies who are too immersed in the science of search marketing (code, links, geeky stuff) feel a hard hit from this new art of algorhythm.

    Also, companies who get too wrapped up in ranking and tricking the search engines (who forgot that the real meaning of marketing is maximizing relationships) will also feel some pain with this.

    Search marketing, when done well, boosts 1. credibility (excellent content, relationship building content and information sharing phrase-rich sales content) AND 2. visibility (ranking).
    .-= Lorrie´s last blog ..Monday Web Marketing Motivation: Five Must-Read Marketing Rx Posts =-.

  • I really cant believe more SEO people are not talking about this…
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Google Will “Personalize” Your Search When Your Not Logged In…huh? =-.

  • @Jaan – Honestly, I can’t either. In some ways this is the SEO’s worst nightmare where what was once at least ‘contained’ is now out of the pen and running wild. What are your plans to combat or benefit from this?
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Taking My Own Advice =-.

  • Can we really combat this or other changes from Google. I think we need to educate our clients (or selves) into understanding how the SERP landscape is changing.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Google Will “Personalize” Your Search When Your Not Logged In…huh? =-.

  • The thing I think we all need to remember most about this, is the fact that this functionality is turned on by default. You can opt out — and that’s the bad news IMHO! The number of people who have enough google smarts to know how to do this and are competant enough to do this is slim….which may spell troubles for us SEO practitioners and our client base…

    And yes, we’ve blogged about just that issue at!



  • That’s why I’ll be more focused on media buy this year.


    the Body Guard marketer
    .-= Franck Silvestre´s last blog ..Traffic Evolution By Jonathan Mizel My Review and Bonus =-.