Not Another Google Dance, It’s Google’s More Personalized Search

by , March 8, 2010

Google’s personalized search has been around for some time. But, it was mostly in experimental stage. Google recently updated their Personalized Search for good. Their personalized search is based on “log in” as well as cookies (when you are not logged in). Recently, they made it a permanent feature.

When you are not logged in, you are identified through anonymous cookies. The problem is,  these two (logged in & no logged in) are treated as different identities with different search behaviors. Therefore, you might see different results in different log in situations, different places, and with different search behaviors. So, if you think that the shuffling of the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) is another Google Dance, then you are wrong. Have a look at the video from the Google guys to verify.

To turn off Personalized Google Search

Google has given an opt out option for you to turn off the personalized Google search. However, there is another way by using “&pws=0” parameter after the search query URL. e.g. http://www.google.com/search?q=blueliner+interactive+marketing&pws=0. In some cases, it was found that, this parameter doesn’t work. But, I guess Google is still working on it.

How Personalized Search is Changing SERPs?

Once your are doing a personalized search, you may see some biased results. For one of our clients, here in Bangladesh, I was seeing the URL in 55th position for one of their important keyword. i.e. the site is pushed to 6th page. The 6th page phenomenon also worked for countries like: Germany, UK, Italy when I started to use some free proxys to search.

Since, the site is hosted from Culver City in California, I  guess it will rank closer in USA. Here is what I found using a handful of online free proxys:

  • From a Brea, California server, I found it in 45th position
  • From a Chicago server, found in 41st position
  • From a Woodstock (Near Chicago), found in 42nd
  • From a Huston Proxy Server, found it in 46th position
  • From a Pennsylvania Proxy server, found it in 45th

So, the site is actually jumping in the 5th page in USA. This means that, there is not much difference when you are in the same country. But, it matters when you are in different country and showing different search behavior.

Except for the first proxy, you can observe that, the ranks are steadily moving down when go from the east coast to the west coast. So, can the distance also be a great factor in personalized search?