• http://www.wolf-howl.com graywolf

    Just because I ordered my coke with extra ice last time doesn’t mean I want it that way this time. I hate personalized SERP’s, I despise it even more that they don’t tell me they are personalized, and I loathe not being able to turn it off. I also have extreme antipathy for not being able to keep my search history on and not be part of personalized search.

    Let me have it the way I want, not the way you think I do. I don’t want SERP’s that work like Microsoft programs that try to anticipate what I want to do, because more often than not it’s wrong. Bring back truth, purity, and clarity to the SERP’s.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    Just to be clear, you can turn it off by signing out of Google Accounts. But I agree, some people are going to find that a pain. If you’re logged into AdSense, you don’t want to have to necessarily log out just to do a non-personalized search.

  • http://www.outofmygord.com Gord Hotchkiss

    Sorry Graywolf, but you are most definitely not the average Google user. Personalization has been inevitable, and it will absolutely improve the user experience. And for the vast majority of users, they’ll never know it’s happening. Danny, thanks for the post outlining the changes. This promises to be a most interesting development. I’ve highlighted a few thoughts on my blog The Personalized Results are Coming, The Personalized Results are Coming.

  • graywolf

    >Sorry Graywolf, but you are most definitely not the average Google user.

    agreed, but “dumbing down”, limiting, or forcing power users out of the drivers seat and into the back seat locked down in 5 point harness isn’t the answer either.

  • http://www.joostdevalk.nl/blog/ Joost de Valk

    I didn’t see it mentioned in the article, but Google now also shows how often you’ve visited a site in the SERPs itself if you’re logged in…

  • http://www.consolecolors.com Kat2

    The thing that worries me is that we don’t know how long and how well Google will hold to its “Don’t be evil” motto.

  • http://ekstreme.com/thingsofsorts/fun-web/personally-speaking pierrefar

    It’s very simple: I don’t want Google or anyone tracking me on a personal level. Whether it will “enhance my search experience” or not is irrelevant. When I search, I’m looking for something new, so please stop trying to second guess my intentions.

    Sadly, most people on the net cannot make an informed decision like SEOs who read SEL can. I did a straw poll today of my friends mentioning that “Google is tracking your behaviour now and changing the search results based on what you’ve like before”. No one had heard of this change, and they all described that as “wrong”, but in much ruder language. I imagine that if the mainstream media picked this angle, Google will have a serious PR backlash.

    So please, let’s not beat around the bush: it’s spyware on a scale we’ve never seen before.


  • http://www.solaswebdesign.net Miriam

    I started a thread on this same subject over at Cre8asite yesterday, basically expressing what graywolf has said here. I don’t like the presumption involved in Google deciding what I’ll like best. I like to make that decision on my own.

    I really appreciated this timely article, and in particular, the step by step instructions for pausing the search history.

  • http://www.optimizeandprophesize.com/ Jonathan Mendez

    Thanks Danny for this great write-up.

    You can say this is about Google trying to presume what you will “like” the best or you can say it’s about delivering a higher degree of relevance to your query based on an increased number of data points.

    Are they not one in the same?

    Hasn’t Google (or any other SE) always been in the business of trying to anticipate what you want to do and where you want to go? In this regard nothing has changed, yet everything has changed.

    One size does not fit all. As digital marketers we take what we know about users to deliver relevance because we know that relevance provides great user experiences and great UX increases ROI and builds brand loyalty. Google built an empire with this formula and they understand that they will stay dominant as long as they can keep improving this formula. It looks to me like they’ve done it again.

  • http://www.aimClear.com aimclear

    Thanks for the critical detail in this article. Of course, personalized SERPS turn traditional organic prominence reporting tools somewhat sideways.

    Does this mean that we will need to get more aggressive with “beat the algorithm

  • http://www.daviddalka.com/createvalue David Dalka

    Just because you click on a site once, doesn’t mean I want it to start showing up #1 each time!
    his complicates many SEO issues it would seem.

  • DBrooks

    It seem like SEO just got a lot more esoteric and ambiguous. I am not sure I like this new direction but maybe personalized search is an inevitability; the price we will all have to pay for spam.

  • Steve Amundsen

    Thanks for a great post, Danny. As always you have a keen eye for the Intuitive Obvious. It is clear that the principles that guide intelligent SEO will continue to be even more relevant with personalized search. After all, are we not striving to provide relevant content and user experience to our optimized sites? If so, then we will see improved results from personalized search. The wannabes will disappear, and the truly relevant will emerge victorious.

  • http://www.aimclear.com aimclear

    Steve you are so right. At the end of the day content has been (and always will be) KING.

  • Arnaud fischer

    SEL, this is awesome, awesome social search coverage! To paraphrase smarter people, information retrieval is reaching another inflexion point. There is a shift taking place from Search engines having the power to search users getting empowered, from the head to the tail, from a “few-to-many” to a “many-to-many” publishing model. Social search is changing the rules. Another way to think of it is Social Search is the 3rd big evolution of the search business after i) algorithmic search, ii) paid search models, and now iii) Social Search. Web 2.0 trends all converge toward social search: social networking, consumer generated media, open platforms and syndication models, new user interaction models.

    At first relevance was about i) “on-the-page criteria”, then ii) about “off-the-page criteria” like meta tags, then about iv) Web connectivity and link authority like PageRank, and finally, now, about v) people, people networks and communities. Social search is the new deal and there is no turning back.

  • gene evangelist

    Thanks for the great article.
    Personalized search could be a good idea under some circumstances for the search engine.
    Is it good for the searcher?
    Ask yourself this question:
    If I’m searching again for widgets,
    obviously my first widget search left me unstatisfied, THATS WHY I’M SEARCHING AGAIN,
    do I want to be given another batch of the same unsatisfying results?

  • http://www.gotostrategic.com Chris Parente

    Great article Danny, thanks much for the level of detail. As adoption rises, how do you see this type of personalization affecting so-called professional search?

    In one sense it’s great, I’m already starting from a smaller universe of sites I’ve helped define. In the other it’s not, since when someone in researching a topic they don’t always know exactly what they’re looking for. To put it another way, does personalization decrease the chances for an “A-Ha” moment of finding something I didn’t already know was relevant to my query?

  • schachin

    I agree with the people who posted dissenting opinions about the personalized search. I have very diverse interests based on my type of work, school, where I live (vegas) and personal interests etc. The diversity of these areas are not conducive to narrowed search options.

    Also I like the point made about when the results are lacking and I conduct a new search .. I want NEW results not more of the same..

    Also, just because I use one site for many things does not mean it is good for the others… ie a list apart is a great CSS code site for lists, but not all CSS issues.. so if I spend a lot of time searching for list issues one week the next time I search for CSS code that is what will show.. ??

    I think this was a bad bad bad idea.. and not to mention the privacy issues. Some of you believe this is inevitable. I think once the average american understands that Google now has a record of every search ever performed and can associate it with your name and user account personalized search will die a very quick death..

    The bottom line is the search engine should do better on removing spam without involving a limitation on my search results. I should be able to see the plethora of information on a subject and be able to filter my own results.

    Bad Google! No biscuit for you! ;)
    If it were an opt in program or had that toggle button mentioned in this article, I might not mind so much, but right now I am very unhappy with Google.

  • http://www.theebusinessresource.com Theebusinessresource

    Danny, great article – thank you!

    One major question that comes to mind is – Will the ranking, trends and behaviors of other user’s personalized search also affect my results, for the first time I search on a given topic?

    I’ve also provided my thoughts on my blog – Google’s Personalized Search Debate

  • http://oksoft.blogspot.com shantanuo

    Personalized search is exactly what I am waiting for since 2004 (when google introduced it for the first time)

  • http://catinkacards.tripod.com/cknotes Catinka Knoth

    I’ve been dreading the day this would happen. I rely so much on unintended search results for answers and ideas. For instance I landed here looking for the meaning of the code ‘gbv’ that now appears in google search result urls. I did not find that answer but learned this dreaded news instead. It is this serendipitous aspect that I’ve found just as important in using Google. Too much predictability makes for narrow visions. I can only have faith that unpredictability will always be there, no matter what we try. It is the nature of life.

    I’ve posted about this in my blog CKnotes and linked to your article.
    Regards, Catinka Knoth