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Had it with personalised search results? Then opt-out!!

by Faye Daffarn | 15.01.2010
As of the 4th December, Google now personalises the search results of anyone who uses its search engine.  Weirdly, considering this is one of the most important updates to come out of the search engine, ever, it hasn’t been that widely talked about. Was that just good timing by Google? Have they managed to slip it under the radar so that people don’t realise the significance? Who knows.

Anyway…what does this mean for Joe Blogs?  It means that you will probably see different results from anyone else, depending on your search history.  For example, if you often search and click on links from ASOS that appear in Google’s results, over time, Google learns that you really like ASOS, resulting in a possible ranking boost. So you might now start seeing more ASOS listings, when perhaps they weren’t showing up before! Bryan Horling, Software Engineer and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager from Google posted this video discussing it.

And what does this mean for SEO then?  We have know for ages that search results would be getting more personalised, although for many queries, there will continue to be “normal” results  until Google has got enough information to start personalising them. Being first to come out with new content means that SEO remains as important as ever to ensure that you’ve got that first shot at being considered. Search Marketing Agencies should still be ensuring they work hard at making clients’ sites as high quality and useful as possible to their audience.

Now for the interesting bit…if you are hacked off with getting personalised search results thrown back at you, here’s how to opt out.

1. Sign out of your Google account
2. Click on the Web History link to the right of the page
3. Disable customisations based on search activity

And you’re done!

As for me, I think personalisation is a good thing but I don’t think searchers, site owners and others have paid enough attention.  Let’s see what happens next.