Remember Search Engines Display Personalized Results
Search engines are amazing tools for finding relevant information about your query. We often take for granted how convenient it is to simply type some keywords into Google, Bing, or Yahoo search and get a result of an organized list of relevant links and websites.
What most people seem to forget about search engines is that they are not just technology platforms, but also dynamic marketing platforms that make billions of dollars. This is both good and bad. The good part is that Google can personalize searches based on your location and previous searches so that you can find places and things more closely related to where you are and what you like. The bad part is that the personalized search results can make it difficult to get objective results about what you are searching for.
You may want to know what the best SEO company in the United States is, but Google keeps displaying SEO companies in your city that are not necessarily the best in the country when you search “best SEO companies.” In some instances, it can be very difficult to find objective search results once Google or the other major search engine have aggregated a lot of information about your IP address and Google account.
Notice how a Google Plus post from my Colleague Patrick shows up when I search web design on Google and other local boston web design firms show up as well. This would certainly not be the case for someone who was not connected with Patrick on Google Plus or live in the Boston area.
In most cases personalized search results can be helpful, but it may also cause some searchers to not get objective information. Some people may rarely stumble upon information that is not on a major website because they only go to the major news websites and Google realizes that they are content with these website’s information. Google will show them search results of news sources and websites they have liked on Facebook, Google Plus 1’d, or demonstrated interest in through various means of Internet browsing. This can be very damaging to providing a true objective Internet experience. There are many people who are not happy with personalized search from a privacy persepective as well.
However, as users become more aware of the search engines marketing tactics, and the misinformation scattered around the Internet, savvy Internet users will overcome this problem. Intelligent users will start clearing their cache more frequently and log out of Gmail when they want more objective search results.
In conclusion, personalized search can be a good thing, but is something you should be aware of. When you see something on the first page, do not assume it is there for everyone, because it may not be. You must realize that Google is tailoring results too you. Clear your cache, and log out of your Google account to get a better idea of Google’s search results for the query you want to see. Keep in mind that this will not completely solve the problem of the search results being tailored to you but should help to get a more objective picture overall. You can also browse in incognito mode, which can also help your search to be less location biased.