Google spotlights customized search differences

Wonder how Google might be adjusting search results depending on where you are or what you searched for before? The company now tells you some about it.

Google has begun showing details about how Google customizes search results for location and search history.
Google has begun showing details about how it customizes search results for location and search history. Google

Google's search engine gives different responses depending on the location of a person and various other factors. On Wednesday, the company said, it will show searchers exactly what those differences are.

"Today, we're rolling out a new feature in Google Web Search that will help you better understand how your search results are already customized," said Rachel Garb, a Google product manager, in the blog post. A message will appear above the search results telling how searches were customized and offering a link to share more details.

Specifically, the message will show how search changed from three customization possibilities:

• Location, as judged by an approximate real-world city based on a user's Internet Protocol address or by address information stored in a user's Google account.

• Recent searches. Google pays attention to previous search queries because they can provide context Google can use to interpret the search. "We keep the most recent query on your browser for a limited time. After that, the information is removed from your browser and disappears immediately if you close your browser," Garb said.

• Search history. For users who have Web History enabled (users must explicitly enable it), Google also factors in a longer history of searches. "One important note about Web History: it belongs to you and you have complete control over it," Garb said. "You can remove specific items or pause the service at any time. And if there's a particular search that you'd rather not have personalized based on your Web History, you can also just temporarily sign out of your Google Account."

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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