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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 06:27 PM

Danny Sullivan reports Google Now Personalizes Everyone’s Search Results

Default is opt-in, not opt out

The short story is this. By watching what you click on in search results, Google can learn that you favor particular sites. For example, if you often search and click on links from Amazon that appear in Google’s results, over time, Google learns that you really like Amazon. In reaction, it gives Amazon a ranking boost. That means you start seeing more Amazon listings, perhaps for searches where Amazon wasn’t showing up before.

The results are custom tailored for each individual. For example, let’s say someone else prefers Barnes & Nobles. Over time, Google learns that person likes Barnes & Noble. They begin to see even more Barnes & Nobles listings, rather than Amazon ones.



#2 eKstreme

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 06:51 PM

So let me get this straight: to completely opt-out, you'll have to login permanently? Which moron came up with that scheme?

#3 cre8pc

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 07:05 PM

And if Google sees 1 computer = 1 user, what if multiple users? What if 1 opt-ins, 1 opts-out on 1 PC?

Several user behaviors there.

#4 EGOL

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 08:03 PM

Wow... this is really going to overly favor websites like amazon and ebay that already have a huge reach.

The rich will get richer.

#5 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:08 AM

You do not have to log in permanently. You have to PAUSE your Web History (while logged out) and clear all items.

This is a remarkably bold move on Google's part. I suspect they are going to let people clean up their own search results. But how will people be able to discover new content? I suspect they will have to resort to some sort of Personal Search Injection (just as they use Universal Search Injection for News, Images, Video, etc.).

The SEO community now has something to buzz about for a few weeks.

#6 jonbey

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 05:49 AM

Chrome > Ingognito

Or FF equivalent. Just keep one window open for search. But yeah, sounds like a pretty stupid idea. Maybe time to fire up the Adwords campaign again.....

Clicking leads to increased rank? Funny, as I heard that the other day. It was on the tele, so I assumed that the reporter just made it up, but in relation to the Mrs. Obama monkey image that was on Google, they said that one problem was that the more people that clicked the photo, the higher it appeared in the photo search pages. They had spoken to Google, but they could have made that bit up themselves.

#7 Wit

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 10:44 AM

I wonder why. Except - indeed - as a favour to G's old friends. Ugh {goes off to find bucket}

#8 swainzy

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 12:48 PM

This is really bad. I don't want anyone making those decisions for me.
:)

#9 cre8pc

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 01:37 PM

I asked Danny Sullivan some questions on this via Twitter.

I was curious about library computers or situations like mine, where there are many computers in the house and we all use them. The kids are not allowed on test computers, but they do get on my laptop or sneak on the main test desktop to do homework in my office.

I wondered how google would track usage behavior with multiple users on one pc?

Danny said google goes by browser usage, not by person. One IP can have many user behaviors based on the browser they use.

This, to me, is still screwed up. I use FF, IE and Chrome and husband uses Chrome, but the kids use FF and IE and sometimes FF, depending on which computer they sit at.

Yes, you switch opt in and opt out on and off but who wants to keep doing that? Yes, history is kept for 180 days. If you want to hide it, clear it.

Sooo, jealous girlfriend finds bf consistently clears his history and what does she think?

You can let Google fiddle with your SERPS or opt out. Its more of the be all things to all people Google mentality.

#10 eKstreme

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 02:23 PM

Is this tracking cookie based or IP based? Does it use Javascript?

Both are easy to block for google.com/* .

#11 cre8pc

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 02:25 PM

Browser based was all he said...

#12 SEOigloo

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 03:20 PM

The thing is, if Google is going to continue to evolve in this way, where *you* see a site ranking, whether opted in or out, doesn't matter. Most people will have no notion that this is going on and will be seeing personalized results. Whatever sites are appealing to the most people, and therefor appearing for the highest number of searches, will have maximum visibility...so unless you can sit at the computers of everyone else in the world (or unless someone develops a tool that approximates this), it's just not going to matter anymore where an SEO is seeing clients rank...at least to the the unknown degree that SERPs will now contain personalized results. I wish they'd tell Danny what the % is, as this is really the only way I can think of that we'd understand the extent of the effects of this change.

Edited by SEOigloo, 05 December 2009 - 05:51 PM.


#13 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 03:41 PM

Exactly. There's no point in opting out so that you can see the "real" rankings, when the rest of the world is seeing personalized SERPs.

It's kinda like the old, "Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no one is around to hear it?"

If no one is seeing the non-personalized results, except the SEOs who opt out, then opting out is just a lesson in futility.

I also agree that knowing a % would be useful. If results are personalized to a very minor degree, then maybe it's not that big a deal, but we may not ever be given that information.

#14 Wit

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:20 PM

I still do not see the point of "personalised search". I tend to search for NEW stuff every time. If I wanna look back of some of the important OLD stuff, I'll check my bookmarks (or even my browser's search history). No, if I search for something (again), chances are I wanna find the best, most relevant results.

Is that weird? Am I in fact a raving loon? :paddedcell:

#15 jonbey

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:52 PM

Wit, I am with you there. I would find it very annoying if every time I did some research I would have to ignore the first 3 pages because those sites only came up because I had already read them.

But, the search engines are there for the average user, and the average user probably does a lot less searching and analysis than any of us.

If it is true that it is browser based, then that is easy to get around. For SEO there will still be a clean starting point. Personalised results will only show after the initial searches, and you will still need your SEO to get in there first, and need your quality titles and descriptions to get clicked first.

#16 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 05:14 PM

:offtopic:

Yes, Wit, you are a raving loon :panic:

:offtopic:

(This is the kind of post I wish I could make inline (within someone else's post), like a threaded comment, so as to not disturb the flow of the original thread).

#17 earlpearl

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 06:49 PM

1. (agree with Donna above)

2. I like to check serps. I know with owning operating local businesses of 2 types in a couple of local markets we have one business type that normally generates a vast majority of new visitors most of the time. serps will count for new visitors.

3. For vistors for the other topic we know there are a lot of repeat visitors over time. I'm roughly thinking we need to continue to send emails all the time to keep on top of existing customers regardless of whom they first clicked on.

4. Frankly I'm going to have people from our businesses visit local libraries. They are going to search on a variety of local terms...they are going to click on our sites. I've already tested it.

A) I'm surprised to see the volume of people using public library web connections.
B) Its been in existance for a while. I've tried it a couple of times, revisited libraries and the repeated searches I did keep showing our businesses at #1 for serps.

Does it make a difference? Maybe a little one. Not sure...but I like the advantage and frankly I'm surprised to see the volumes at libraries.

Frankly, if it wasn't browser based but "connection/server" based I'd have our people visit starbucks, coffee houses/restaurants/etc. where people can connect via the businesses connection. :nanatype:

#18 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 01:54 AM

For the record, they are using a "secret" cookie that is not attached to google.com.

#19 eKstreme

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 05:14 AM

No cookie can be secret, really. It has to be stored by the browser and it has to be sent over the wire. There are multiple points of interception.

#20 glyn

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 06:16 AM

Let's see how this goes down with European legislation on privacy. I for one will be writing.

I don't think it's going to stand up personally but there's lots of examples of Online being completely contrary to common sense and legality.

As for a hidden cookie, that's just going to give legislators an even bigger incentive because...and exactly how personalized can a session be if a user has only accessed at an internet cafe. In fact, as I doubt that most cafe's will clean the cache and cookies, it's more likely that this change is going to damage results by showing personalized results for sessions that are completely at odds with what the current user is wanting to see.

Funny.

#21 bwelford

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 01:36 PM

I believe that Google has crossed a major divide here. They will now identify 'me' or at least who they think is me and send me customized information. Whatever weasel words they may put in terms of service that I am assumed to have consented to, it's not an appropriate way for any company to behave.

I assume they will be burying the 'Do No Evil' encouragement to their staff. However I assume that was thrown away quite some time ago. :P

#22 Ruud

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 11:08 AM

When Google moved the adwords column closer to the SERP I got a bit fed up.

Since almost a month I'm on Bing now. I've even set it as my (Chrome) browser startup page.

It's engaging with the daily changing image with fact-links build in.

The SERP is clean looking. Video results have on-hover preview. you can preview (extended summary/snippet) a page by hovering over the result.

Some SERP's have a nicer one-box idea than Google has. Take this one for example; the page is divided into sections of 3 results each.

I find it a cozier, nicer looking, good feeling search engine. I like the "feel" around it too: they have some nice interaction going on and so far communicate really well with the SEO world.

The only part where I have found Bing wanting is in-SERP answers. Google tries to answer more questions right on the page; Bing tends to send you to web sites.

I'm the tech-head of my circle of family & friends. My wife as well as 2 friends have set Bing as their default engine now.

Doesn't solve the personalized search stuff -- but after messy stuff after messy stuff I do decide to vote with my feet clicks.

#23 bwelford

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 01:53 PM

Great idea, Ruud. Bing it is for me too as default search engine. I think this idea has wings. Let's spread the word mightily. Perhaps that's the way to get the big G's attention.

I must admit there's a certain sweetness in putting in keywords in the Google Chrome search/url box and having it open up a Bing SERP.

:applause:

Edited by bwelford, 07 December 2009 - 01:57 PM.


#24 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 08:16 PM

I'm liking Bing too. There's clearly a lot of thought going into how the content is organized and presented.

But back on the topic of customization: Pandora's box is already open. In the search box in the Google toolbar, I've noticed the type-ahead recommendations always show me recent searches, steering me away from new searches. Amazon ... they obviously do a lot of customization for anonymous and logged-in users.

But that's just baby stuff. Try this if you haven't already: Google for "retargeting" and read about some of these new services, such as F e t c h b a c k.

The kernal of the idea is: They instrument your web site so they can store each visitor's IP address along with the pages they visited. Then, when that visitor visits a web site in the vendor's network of advertising subscription properties, the vendor serves up one of your ads that is designed to bring them back to your web site. If you have pages on purple chocolates and pink puddings, and someone visits the pink puddings page, the service will store their IP and the fact they visited that page. Then, let's say they're checking their Yahoo email. The retargeting vendor has bought a number of advertising impressions on that site. Presumably Yahoo dynamically requests and ad, passing along the visitor's IP; the vendor finds them in their data base, and serves them up your ad for 10% off on pink puddings if you click now and place an order.

I've seen this work in very, very targeted ways. I was once on one of the major travel sites, searching for air fares from San Jose, CA to Springfield, MO -- believe me, that just isn't a high-volume route. But a few days later I was checking my email on Yahoo, and what did I see ... an ad from that travel site, promoting low fares between those two cities. Spooky.

These retargeting vendors can make a small business appear to be much larger than it really is. You check out a small company's web site, and then two days later you see their ad on, say, the NY Times site. You think: wow, they're really much larger than I thought if they're running ads here.

I suspect that you're getting targeted content in ways you don't even realize. (How's that for paranoia.)

Of course, Google has positioned itself as a neutral party in delivering all the world's information to your browser. They could easily do more to tell you that the search results have been weighted on the basis of your past search and give you a large and clearly labeled button to expand your search or turn off customization.

#25 earlpearl

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 09:06 PM

Ruud:

The Bing results and segmentation for Jerusalem artichoke is very nifty. That is a terrific advancement in addressing an incredible variety of ways in which one might search for that topic.

tx for the example. Very illuminating.

Reminds me of an MSN tool that looked at keyword phrases and then further segmented them as to subsequent search to arrive at the actual narrow focus of a search. Quite inventive.

I think I have a new home page :)

@ FrankElley:

Big business has been doing stuff like this for a while. Deep analysis of a searchers habits, followed up by "clever/insideous" advertising. CRAP. I don't like it either. Its not just Google though, it is the current application of efforts by marketers for decades to target the tendencies of consumers. crap politics does it also.

You've got to fight hard to maintain some individuality.

#26 jonbey

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 05:08 AM

Yeah, had a similar discussion before, I think in relation to that Phorm thing that some UK ISPs weere (maybe still are) implementing. The thing is, many people that are so against such things on principal are happy to use supermarket store cards that do exactly the same thing. Plus amazon has been doing this for years - do we hear people shouting "oh not again, Amazon has suggested another book that I may like, I wish it would stop!" ??? I am listening, but all is quiet.

#27 swainzy

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 01:52 PM

I have switced off Google also.

#28 SEOigloo

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 04:05 PM

Folks may already have seen this, but if not, here is a very good article on personalized search from Huo Mah:

Personalization is a kitten; not a dragon. Another interesting finding is that personalization wasn’t having as much of an affect as many have felt it would. Yes, there was evidence of high levels of re-ranking, but the re-rankings with PS off weren’t greatly different from those with it turned on.


Good stuff here.

#29 cre8pc

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 10:22 PM

Interesting reaction:

Firefox Firefox Exec Rejects Google Privacy Stance, Pushes Users to Bing

Firefox users are being urged to install the browser extension that adds the Bing search engine to Firefox. Mozilla director of community development, Asa Dotzler, made the recommendation in a blog post in response to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's recent comments on privacy.



#30 SEOigloo

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 05:21 PM

So, it's been about a month since the announcement of Google ramping up personalization. Has this changed anything about the way you're doing business? The way you're looking at SERPs? Understanding rankings, competition, etc?

#31 SeoKungFu

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:05 AM

My observation at the very moment is that it affects in a good way loyal / returning visitors and their already established search intent, and makes it harder for new sites/new visitors and their way up the SERPs/finding your site.

Edited by SeoKungFu, 13 January 2010 - 11:15 AM.




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