"We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."
Eric E. Schmidt - Google
I assure you that is his actual quote. Don't believe me? Google it.
However, your search results are probably different to mine.
Google is profiling you and have been since 2009. It doesn't matter whether you are signed in or out of a Google account - the cookies know your secrets.
How Personal is Personal?
Rival search engine DuckDuckGo illustrates how well Google profiles you with a recent study they released this month. Occasionally we get clients asking to see rankings reports. Watch this video and you will see why we don't supply these:
Once upon a time we used to provide ranking reports for clients. They were an easy, quantifiable way to show the SEO
work we carried out on their website was having a positive effect. Now you see why we don't provide these anymore - there are no such thing as vanilla search results.
There are so many factors that can affect what search results a user can see. Eli Pariser mentions in his Ted Talk
a Google Search Engineer told him there were 57 signals that Google looks at to personally tailor your search results. Different people get different things. Why does Google do this?
More "relevant" advertising of course.
And this isn't about Google profiling SEO's either
- it is more than that. It's about freedom of information which is one of the beautiful things about the internet. We can see many different points of view. Placing people in a filter bubble limits our worldview. After writing that I realised how hypocritical that actually sounds, coming from a search engine optimiser who influences search results for a living. But the impact we SEO's have on the web is miniscule. Typically, we try to make good content found more easily (well the good ones do anyway). Google on the other hand...
Do you trust the information Google is (or isn't) showing you?
Do you care you are being profiled?