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