Google Updates Personalized Search

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Google changed its Personalized Search beta program yesterday, basing participating users' search results on their search histories rather than their user preferences.

The Mountain View, CA-based search engine says its Personalized Search, in beta since April, will produce more relevant results because they are based on past searches.

If a user queries the word "bass," Personalized Search may display results pertaining to the type of musical instrument bass, rather than the fish bass, if the user often searches for music information on Google.

"Today's Personalized Search experiment [follows] our Personalized Homepage announcement, and represents another step we're taking to make Google services of greater utility to the individual needs of our users," according to a Google statement.

When Google first invited users to sign up for Personalized Search beta, they were asked to submit their areas of interest. That is what the personalized search results were based on. That system has now been scrapped.

The new model is "easier for the user" and is an "implicit model that just begins to work as the system stores more information about the user," a Google spokesperson said.

The new system does not affect the way ads are ranked in search results, the spokesperson said.

Personalized Search's new Search History feature also lets users browse a timeline of their Google searches and check on their level of search activity on any given day. This includes the number of times they visited certain Web pages and the last time they viewed those pages.

Users also can sign out of the Personalized Search feature or remove it from their My Account page, according to Google.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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