Google opens up (a little) on it search secrets

In an almost unprecedented move, Google has made some efforts to demystify the arcane science that is its search methodology by launching a new feature in its web search browser.

China wasn’t the only big world power to let the people peek behind it’s internet wall of mystery last week.

In an almost unprecedented move, Google has made some efforts to demystify the arcane science that is its search methodology by launching a new feature in its web search browser.

According to the Official Google Blog, when Google users conduct a search they will soon be given additional information about the location, recent searches and browsing history characteristics used to create the results they receive.

The new search results page will look like this:

New Google search

You can click the “More details” link to get to a page like this:

New Google search

According to the blog post, written by a Google product manager named Rachel Garb, there are three main planks to customised results.

Location. Google uses location information based on your computer’s IP address to customise search results and says that if users want Google to base search results on a different locale, users should sign into or create a Google account and provide a city or street address. Google also says location data is used to improve users’ experience in Google maps and other Google products.

Recent searches. Google says that because recent search activity provides such valuable context for understanding the meaning behind searches, recent search information is used to customise results whenever possible. In order to customise results and show you the customisation details, Google keeps the most recent query on a user’s browser for a limited time. This information disappears immediately when a user closes their browser.

Web history. If a user has signed in and has web history enabled, Google will customise search results based on what the user has searched for in the past on Google, and what web sites they have visited. Rachel Garb is careful to point out that users have complete control over their web history and can remove specific items or pause the service at any time.

Paul Wallbank, SmartCompany blogger and founder of IT support company PC Rescue, says the biggest message to come out of the blog posting is just how much Google searches can be skewed by personal information such as web history and recent searches.

He says the level of customisation can play havoc with a company’s SEO and SEM strategies. Take the example of two users searching for information on computer repairs – depending on what they have searched before, their results could be extremely different.

“It shows just how complex the job is for SEO consultants,” Wallbank says. “You’ve really got to put yourself in the shoes of your target market and think about what they would be searching for.”

Chris Thomas, SmartCompany blogger and head of SEO company Reseo, says companies should not panic. “Don’t change your online strategy because Google’s rolling something new out.  Just make sure you stay relevant – that’s the key.”

On specific suggsetion he says is to understand Google’s increading use of localisation in search results and make sure your company details are entered in the Local Business Centre on Google Maps.

The revealing details about customisation should also be a warning for companies to be cautious if an SEO consultant promises them the world – the Google search engine is way too complex for anyone to be making any guarantees.

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