Google has taken another step in their commitment to transparency and announced on the Google blog that from now on they will inform you on how your search results have been customized. This change will be going live around the world over the coming days, but is currently only available on Google.com for English searches.
What?? My search results are customized? Yes, they have been customized for a while already, but the difference now is that you can alter the customizations Google has automatically inserted for you. In the upper right corner a small line of text will tell you the used custom parameters, for example which location has been used to optimize your results.
If for example you are not happy with the location Google has chosen for you (based on your IP address or Google account), you can change the location in one click. As long as you allow cookies, this change will be remembered and used for future search queries. If you are logged into Google, your default location on Google maps will normally be used as a starting point to ‘localize’ your search.
To contextualize your search Google also takes previous queries in account. This means that if you first search for ‘seo blogs’ and then for ‘news’, Google could guess you are looking for news related to the SEO industry. Of course they can guess wrong, so they inform you about the recent query used to customize your search results. This feature is not so cool when the next user of the computer is informed about your previous search for Alcoholics Anonymous, therefore the last query is only stored 30 minutes and disappears upon closing the browser.
Finally, Google also peeps into your web history to have an idea about your search habits and favourite subjects. Again for obvious privacy reasons, Google gives you full control over your Web History. Enabling Web History will customize your search results and allow you to have a clear overlook of pages you have visited. A special search function also allows you to search in the full text of previously visted sites. You can personally select the queries you don’t want to be taken into account for search customization, or log out from Google if you don’t want your searches to be monitored by Web History.
Now we can only wait for the changes to appear on Google UK…