Google Video: Privacy & Personalized Search

    September 27, 2007

Early last month the Google Blog released a video regarding privacy. On Monday they released a second video this time specifically discussing privacy as it pertains to personalized search.

Once again support engineer Maile Ohye offers some clear explanations

I still have reservations about personalized search. I appreciate the ability to turn your search history on and off as well as the ability to remove specific sites from your history or clear the whole thing. I doubt most people will ever know they can control their search history to any degree let alone be aware their searches are being stored.

Realize that Google would like to better understand whether you want to know about fishing or musical instruments when you type ‘bass’ and your search history will tell them which is more likely what you’re seeking. But I think personalization based on your past searches can lead to you seeing an ever shrinking corner of the web in search results.

Personalized search isn’t going anywhere and we need to understand the seo implications of personalization. As long as Google doesn’t rerank things too much I’m fine with the idea of personalization and see how it can deliver better results. I still wonder if there’s a danger with personalized search in keeping many people from expanding on their current knowledge.

The privacy issues with your search history should be of concern as well. Yes Google does give you the ability to turn that on and off, but your history will still reside on Google servers after you’ve paused things. They may not be tied to your email address, but having them all tied together through a common IP has been shown not to be a reliable source of maintaining your privacy.

Have a look at the video. If you understand how personalized search works you probably won’t find a lot new in it, but you might be interested to know Google’s public stance on privacy. If personalized search is just a term you’ve seen others talking about and if you’ve never seen your search history you should check out the video. Its a quick and clear explanation of what personalization’s all about and how it affects your privacy.

Whether I agree or disagree with Google’s stance I appreciate their willingness to be more transparent on the issues of both privacy and personalized search.