Sunday, January 30, 2011

Google’s Subtly Personalized Search Results

Google has some killer data on me. It has thousands of emails, chats, tweets, etc. that I’ve exchanged with hundreds of people. Thousands of internet searches. Thousands of search result clicks. And this is one subtle way it uses it at the moment: reordering my search results.

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My top seven results are identical, but in a very slightly different order. That is, my top result for “yield” is the programming definition on MSDN (Microsoft’s developer network). This is absolutely appropriate for me. It is so appropriate that it surprised me into opening the adjacent window in “Incognito Mode” (Chrome’s anonymous mode) to see what normal people see.

Thankfully I can report that most people probably see something ordered more appropriately for them with the C# term falling to the bottom.

This is pretty awesome and something that I bet few realize is happening.

HT: @clipperhouse