Most people using Google every day are not aware that Google manipulates the search results they will see.  The global outcry against Google’s changes to its privacy policy, and extended search personalisation is ongoing – but it may have flown below the radar of every day web users.

When we draw this to peoples’ attention we are frequently responded to with surprise and vows of “I’ll never Google again”.  Personalisation has been going on for some time, but it is now noticeably affecting search results worldwide.

The personalisation of results is based on:

  • What your friends are searching for
  • Where you are in the world
  • Who Google thinks you are based on your history on the web (age, gender, interests)
  • What you’ve searched for previously

The last two points bring up the biggest issues for most people – those of privacy, wanting to remain anonymous on the web, having information collected about you without realising it, and as a friend recently put it:

“If I’m Googling something, it means I’m looking for something NEW.  Not something I already Googled last week.  How do I know if I’m finding anything new? How do I know what is real anymore?”

With droves of people swearing they’ll head for Bing or DuckDuckGo, what does this mean for Google?  Probably not all that much.  Most people don’t even know about it (although it has been ever increasing since 2009) and those that do are still Googling away.

What is does mean though, is that if you quote your website’s ranking in Google as #2 – you are probably the only person in the world for whom this is true!

SO – what can we do about it?  How do we know where we really rank in Google?  Find out more in our follow up article: How your website REALLY ranks in Google.