back to article Webmasters fume as Google profiles signed-out searchers

Google is now "personalizing" results even when users have not logged into its web-dominating search site. And SEO types aren't too happy about it. Personalization is a euphemism for a Google-controlled practice that involves tweaking your search results according to your past web history. Mountain View was already doing this …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    This is a bad idea

    I don't want my search results to be fucked around with.

    I want them to be relevant to what I'm searching for now, not relevant to what I was searching for ten minutes ago.

    This is such a stupid idea, it'll kill Google.

  2. Duncan Hothersall
    Thumb Up

    Anything that SEO types aren't happy with

    gets my vote. It's a scummy, parasitical business.

  3. jackharrer
    Happy

    Yes

    So there is nothing like TrackMeNot to stop this? And CookieCuller? And Adblock? And anonymising VPN to Sweden (relakks.com)?

    Shame ;)

  4. jake Silver badge

    Whatever.

    My machine room's router has been dropping all of google's IP space on the floor for about three years, with no issues when it comes to my day-to-day "work" Internet use.

    The barn's DSL router (which I usually post to ElReg thru'), is about to be similarly google-proof. I suspect some of the kids will object to it, but unless my wife gets upset, I really don't care.

  5. Syd
    Flame

    SEO = Gaming?

    Isn't 'Search Engine Optimization' really a polite way of saying 'Gaming Google' anyway. The SEOs aren't interested in YOU any more than Google is - they just want to be able to game the system to get their results above the next guy's. In other words... I have no sympathy!

  6. Art Kavanagh

    Unhappy SEO types?

    My heart bleeds.

    My instinctive first reaction was "Oh, no, this is bad" but, having read the article, I'm inclined to leave personalization turned on for the time being, and see if my results improve.

  7. Jeroen Braamhaar
    Big Brother

    GORG =

    Google Only Returns Garbage

    which I already knew, but it's good to see it confirmed.

    Between SEO and Google's own results massaging, even the term "search engine" becomes ironic -- I've stopped trying to use Google to *find* things long ago - but it seems they're now actively trying to make searching even harder.

    I think "Don't be evil" is only the public Google slogan. I think that deep within the Mountain View HQ, in the same inaccessible vault that houses the descriptions of all their "impartial" algorithms is the real logo - "Don't *appear* Evil"

  8. Adrian Midgley 1

    SEO are not my friend

    The SEOs are trying to present things I'm not interested in to me, even to press them upon me. I don't like that, or them.

  9. Keith T
    Go

    SEOs make money wasting people's time

    With all their optimization, often using techniques to trick google and other search engines into steering human searchers to irrelevant or less relevant commercial sites, instead of the sites most likely to answer their questions.

    So I have little sympathy for the plight of Search Engine Optimizers.

    Go go google!

  10. Tim Ward

    Who is whose emeny?

    SEOs are indeed the enemy of Google and other search engines, and they are the enemy of the punters, and they are the enemy of honest webmasters.

    The punter wants to see the most important and relevant results, not the results from whoever has spent the most on paying SEOs to game listings.

    Anyway, aren't most SEOs scammers who take money off people but don't actually deliver any improvement?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Chronos Silver badge
    Terminator

    The Gorg?

    We are the Gorg. Your lives, as they have been, are over. Your species will adapt to service us. We will add your web searches and interests to our database. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

    Yes, and we all know how that turned out last time, too. It was confounded by Data (both times) and it can be again if they get too cocky.

    What, no Borg icon? Ah well, terminator will have to do.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    SEO Experts are parasites

    SEO professionals, like lawyers and accountants, if the world had none there would be no need for any to exist. I'm not much impressed with many things Google does but I, for one, welcome our SEO-smashing overlords.

    Oi scamps, get on msn, I need to talk to you about stu [-]

    1. RachelG

      Slashdot has a Borg icon...

      ... So for El Reg to get one would just seem like copycat.

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Details...

      of how to do this please

      1. jake Silver badge

        @FMVK

        The router in the machine room is an older Intel box running a minimal installation of BSD and Netfilter. Nothing comes in or goes out unless I allow it.

        Unfortunately, the DSL modem in the barn doesn't have the capability internally, so I've shut off it's wireless, and hooked a Linksys WRT54G (running Tomato) in-line to handle the DENY tables. Yeah, it's a hack, but it works. So far, one kid[1] has noticed, but the Wife is blissfully unaffected. For more, see:

        http://netfilter.org/

        http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato

        You can do a similar thing using your PC's HOSTS file.

        Sorry for a late reply ... We have a mare who is threatening to foal six or seven weeks early, she needs constant monitoring.

        I'll leave the assemblage of google's IP addresses as an exercise for the reader ... Their lawyers are bigger than mine are :-)

        [1] The kids seem to think that they absolutely HAVE to upload their latest pics & vids within seconds of creating them ... We are truly living in a "I WANT IT NOW!" society, alas.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lawyers and accountants?

      I know your trying to make funny, but do you even know what lawyers and accountants do? SEOs are a waste of space and are the worst type of advertising scum. Both lawyers and accountants do useful jobs, but then when you spend all day telling people "have you tried terning it off and on" you probably woulden't know that.

      Sorry if it is a joke, but then there is a joke icon for a reason.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        terning?

        isn't that something to do with small bird?

        I think you meant "turning" (I'd like to thank my English teacher for that)

        Both accountants and lawyers have a place in society, but sadly as a group they are resistant to change and reform prefering to enshrine arcane practices to reinforce the status quo... so they're never going to be loved

    4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      @ This is a bad idea

      "I don't want my search results to be fucked around with."

      Oh really? How would you know? Are you sure what you get at present is really "untainted" (or unfucked, to stay with your vernacular)? I've noticed for quite some time that even entering the literal text present in a web page you know will NOT get you that site as the first hit (under the ads, of course).

  14. kissingthecarpet
    Big Brother

    Turn off Web history

    I've always had their history gathering turned off - if I want history my browser can do that. It seems obvious that "personalising" your searches is going to be a negative feedback loop unless its sophisticated enough to avoid that.

    SEOs are a waste of web space, though

  15. Big Al
    Paris Hilton

    Oh.

    To be honest I had always assumed Google did this for any passing punters, whether logged in or not, anyway. Makes sense if you have the cookies anyway.

    Do I care? Not really.

    Can I still get useful and obscure info from Google when needed? Yep

    Do I ever click on Google adverts anyway? Nope.

    Do I use the usual range of anti-cookie and pro-privacy addons? Yep.

    And if SEO's are upset, do I mind? NOT AT ALL!

    Paris, because she already knows what she wants anyway.

  16. Anton Ivanov

    Bad idea, good practice

    While I deplore the idea on the basis that it invades privacy at the same time I have to admit that it:

    1. Follows Google's philosophy - they care only about the end user and the middlemen be damned

    2. It puts a large number of parasitic entities out of business. Now this money will have to go elsewhere which is bound to have an overall positive effect

    3. The ability of criminal lowlife to push a rigged and trojaned website to a large audience is greatly diminished

    4. It is what the rest of advertisers do anyway and it was the primary reason for the existence of the like of Phorm. This now eliminates any remaining reason for the likes of Phorm to exist. The niche has been taken by a 900 pound alligator, any small reptiles need not apply.

  17. Cameron Colley
    Unhappy

    So, which search can I use?

    The politics of SEOs aside -- a lot of the moves Google is making at present are a little annoying. So, which search engine can we use?

    Until someone else comes up with a search engine that works half as well as google, and doesn't use google behind the scenes, then we're stuck with them no matter how odious they may become.

  18. Imagus
    Big Brother

    Actually,...

    "Don't be evil" is only half of the slogan. The full slogan reads "Don't be evil, because we know who you are and how to find you". The slogan was never meant do describe Google, it is in fact a serious warning to its users.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Session Cookies

    Set your browser to delete cookies at the end of session. I've been doing this for years, and it works just dandy. Firefox allows you to hold on to the cookies you want (like facebook or twitter) as you see fit. Simples.

  20. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Woohoo!

    More relevant search? Pushing down sites that are trying to 'game' Google and force themselves in front of my eyeballs? Thanks Google :D

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    Can't I stop search all engines doing this...

    ...just by automatically clearing all cookies every time I close the browser? Surely that should be standard practice for any normally-paranoid-tinfoil-hat-wearing web user?

    1. Adam Salisbury

      No...

      Thanks to Google, clearing all cookies opts you back IN to all of the tracking systems installing a cookie opts you OUT of.

  22. Tim Croydon

    Suspected this a while back

    I switched from working on a Java project to C#. I noticed that when searching for API references the MSDN documentation and C# forums started to climb the list and Java equivalents disappeared from the results, even for API names that appear in both languages.

    In two minds about whether its good or not. Bad from a privacy point of course, but it is useful where I'm looking for an answer for something. However, it's probably a bad thing where you're trying to broaden search to unknown areas (e.g. shopping, etc.)

    Whatever you've got against Google, it's difficult to hate them when the service they provide is so much better than everyone else's.

  23. NB

    titles are so last year...

    lol?

    yes, yes I think that will do nicely.

  24. Tony Paulazzo
    Jobs Horns

    # 2746354

    >"GOOGLE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. THEY VIEW YOUR BUSINESS AS AN ENEMY and ONLY have their OWN interest at heart," says one SEO.<

    LMFAO. Exchange the word 'Google' for any company and that statement still works. I think there's a word for that, but can't be bothered googling it.

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely (or the staring into the abyss thing).

  25. Peter Mc Aulay
    Grenade

    Third-party SEOs protest end-user SEO? Pot, meet kettle

    This might actually be a useful feature for many people (myself probably not included, admittedly), and at least I can turn it off. It's not like Google doesn't already know what you search for, anyway.

  26. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    You still get all applicable results, right?

    I'm assuming here that what's affected is result ranking, not result contents - except when results are suppressed on the grounds they appear to be different web pages with the same contents, such as a zillion copies of the GPL or something. I mean, if I frequently click on Google Wikipedia links then it'll be listed first (when did they start this feature?), but if I'm a habitual Encyclopedia Britannica user then that will be number one result, but both will always appear? (Unless I'm after, say, the "Never Mind the Buzzcocks" episode guide. Britannica only covers up to the first Simon Amstell season...)

  27. jon 72
    Thumb Up

    Brilliant

    With a bit of luck these new 'personalised' results will actually return more relevent searches to the user and this is good for the SEO of real websites with actual content rather than sites that do nothing but provide listings of links.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Snowball

    I would have thought that the undesirable feedback effects would have been obvious. In the end, Google will be only presenting searchers with the results the searchers expect to find. Not good.

  29. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Big Brother

    What evil lies below the surface ?

    Ideally everyone wants the most relevant results first and it's not easy to say what the criteria for that should be. Google page ranking ( however it works ) seems to at least go most of the way to achieving that in practice. SEO's simply set out to distort the results I see which is a bad thing IMO.

    What I do know is that my previous search history usually has very little bearing on what I'll be searching for today, no matter how much Google think it does. I typically find I have to exclude terms to bring the more obscure but more useful results to the front anyway.

    Google is still the best search engine I've used and probably will be until they stop delivering what I need to find. As long as I can turn their 'helpful additions' off I don't particularly mind, but you cannot ever know what scheming - and to what ends - is going on at Google HQ.

    1. JCL

      I agree

      While more relevant results is a laudable goal (and I'm no fan of SEO), by concentrating results on sites that you already use Google is effectively narrowing down the references that you have access to. There are jobs/tasks out there that can be aided by "happening on" a site with a different point of view or a different way of presenting information. This can help produce more creative work or get around a mental block. I'm guessing that this creativity will be made more difficult in the future.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SEO is not all bad

    We seem to have an ill-informed witch hunt going on here. Apparently anyone who provides SEO services is a keyword stuffing devil!

    SEO is not all bad, I know there are a lot of spammers and nefarious types out there who spend their entire time trying to trick Google but there are also a lot of us who don’t.

    A recent example of SEO that I provided for a client was to reduce the number of times the words “Services and Solutions” appeared on their website and to increase the occurrence of “XML Typesetting” which is what the company actually does.

    Their Sales and marketing guy had come in and re-written the copy so that services and solutions appeared over 37 times on the site whereas our key word only appeared 7 times.

    Is this bad? Are we trying to cheat the system and skew results for the uses? I don’t think so, in fact we were just trying to make it easier for the user to find the site based on what the user would be searching for.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Good to get rid of SEOs

    In the beginning of the Internet, for those old enough to remember, there were a few indexing/search services. Basically, there were two kinds of services: Yahoo-like, who indexed things BY HAND (would you believe that today?) and AltaVista, who crawled the interwebs and collected some keywords for you to search later.

    Nobody was quite pleased with the results, and then came Google. Their success was largely due to mouth-to-ear, not because they did any kind of huge marketing campaing. Quite simply, Google won because they were delivering the most useful search results. And they retain their leadership today because, let me repeat, they deliver the most useful search results.

    But riding on Google success, or more exactly happening at the same time, came the massive monetization of the internet. All of a sudden, it became clear that one of the most direct ways of making money on the Internet was to have your sites appear in the first places of a Google search result. Note that this does not need to have any connection to wheter this is useful for the user that is searching, most of this revenue will be assumed to come from people that believe that Google is the internet and they cannot type an URL in the address bar. So out of the simplest and the stupidiest an entire industry was born catering for those who wanted to be at the top of the Google results page.

    Link farms, blog farms, spam forum posts, duplicated but not exactly the same content all over the place, and everything in between, plus a lot of people getting paid for making sure this was constantly updated and tweaked to counter Google's constant efforts to avoid those results and give some useful information to the users.

    In the meantime, sites with original content and/or useful services for the masses will continue to thrive, if only because their success is based on the same premises that made Google a success, not because some shady types are constantly polluting the Internet and Google's results to keep themselves on top.

    And now Google announces something that makes the shady job of SEOs more difficult and they enrage. Personally, I'd glad if they finally made them completely unnecessary. Let the user decide what is interesting for them, thanks.

    If you don't like Google's search results, you have Bing, and even Altavista is still around there. If you're making a living out of cheating Google so that searching with your keywords appear first in the results page, you're not improving Google's results or the usefulness of the search in any way. Get out of the place, and get your mistyped URLs, your false blogs, your link farms, your spam posts in forums and everything else out of the way.

    Go away, SEOs. You have been making our lives much more difficult, and are parasites of Google success.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      SEO is all bad

      Optimising a site in the manner you described is not generally considered SEO... just improving the content.

      The difference is that SEO is purely to improve search engine rankings; improving the site (navigation and/or content) is primarily to improve the experience for a visitor... search engine rankings will generally improve as a result of good design.

      Just as an example of how crap the SEO industry is, I heard someone the other day recommend that you put lots of very small white text on a white background at the top of the page. I can only imagine what the search engines would do to that!!!

      If you stop referring to yourself as an SEO, you'll probably do much better in business AND get more respect from your colleagues.

      1. Anonymous Bastard
        Happy

        NOT all bad

        Having worked with some SEO types I can say that, like hackers, they come in different flavours.

        Remember when all hacking was a bad word? Now we're wiser to the distinction and have given them names, Blackhat and Whitehat. The same can be said of SEO, the background-coloured-text types are evil whereas the removing-unnecessary-keyword types are good. Yes everyone wants higher ranking results but some are sympathetic with their targeting.

        I don't believe google's latest change will be harmful to the sympathetic types in the long term. They will adapt the site's phrasing to better match the kind of person who might be interested in their business. That means less frustration for the ordinary people and a happier internet for all.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      There is worse then SEOs

      That just shows that marketing people who write meaningless buzzword filled crap that looks like they stole it from the Dilbert mission statement generator are even more useless then SEOs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "Services and solutions"

      I preferred the honesty of the unoptimised version. If a company's sales folks (and their managers who approved the web site) think it is sensible to say "services and solutions" that many times, they are not the kind of company I want to do business with, not even if they were one of the only two companies in their field.

      But thanks for fixing their web page for them, now all they need is a new sales manager.

  32. The BigYin
    FAIL

    Hmm...

    I am not sure I like Google optimizing my search for me. The reason a search egnine is because I could not find the information in the places I would usually look.

    Google (or SEOs) poisoning the results it pretty retarded. Google's will not help as I will have already looked in the places I normally goo; SEO's will not help as their efforts are going to be largely irrelevant to my search.

    Crudely put - they are both pissing in the pot they drink from.

    Now...CookieCuller....how's that work.....

  33. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Flame

    SEO

    Sorry

    Employment

    Over

  34. Paul Shirley

    might enable it

    Google searches have been steadily degrading for years now, now damn near useless most of the time. Though I hate the idea of letting Google massage my results it seems clear most of that degradation is from the SEO's that are already massaging my search results with increasing success.

    Going to turn on their tracking and see if it helps because the SEO's have made searching like finding a needle in a cesspool.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well

    Hmm on one hand, haha to the SEO I hate them as they mess my results up.

    On the other hand, google are now taking it upon themselves to mess my results up. By making my search more "relevent" to me increases the chance of me not seeing something interesting that I wouldn't have found otherwise.

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Go

    Mr.

    It's a good idea - after all, they've been collecting the data anyway, and a lot of people are none the wiser.

    Now, people will see more personalised results, wonder how, and maybe find posts on the subject - empowering them to start deleting cookies etc. if they are worried.

    Ignorance isn't bliss!

  38. MyHeadIsSpinning
    Big Brother

    Not really relevant to me

    Firefox, No Script, Better Privacy, Google Cookie permanent opt out.

    That is all.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Victory at last!

    If this means that I'll never have to see pay-for-info sites cluttering up my search results again then this is a victory for me. Having expert sexchange returned when I'm trying to figure out an emergency fix is like having XXX rated A2M images returned when I'm searching for "Atom".

  40. Dann
    Troll

    Sticking up the the SEOs (kind of)

    I have met quite a few SEO companies and yes most of them are scum. They seem to want to get their customers in the number one spot above all else. It must be a personality thing.

    Why does it have to be like that?

    If one of my customers sells widgets in London, then they want people who need widgets in London to find them on Google.

    Unfortunately most of the first page in Google for this kind of search throws up other search sites.

    I hope that as time progresses that SEO will just become another part of designing a good website so that when you search for something, the designer has done enough to make sure that the customers site is on the first page and other search sites get pushed down.

    As for all the hate against SEO - Get a life.

    If you dont like the way people do things - Do it better!

  41. John Lilburne

    Well I've found SEO techniques useful

    For example if I've produced a technical page on some organism it might not have dimwit phrases in it, so adding an appropriate meta description can be helpful. Similarly if one has a page of illustrations and little text then the mete sections are indeed useful.

    Anyway the result of this is that those flat-earthers, and creationists, are simply going to see flat-earth and creationist websites, the myriad of other views will mostly disappear from their view.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Scroogle SSL

    end of

  43. John Lilburne

    Another thing

    For some reason, probably because the FF default search is using the beta version, the link to turn off tracking isn't being shown in FF. I can't be arsed to work out how to get to the correct page (well actually I have - get the link using a non beta aware browser), so I've switched to Yahoo search. Sod them I've had enough, at least I can sign out of the Y! Beacon tracking without fscking about.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Cookies = Google = Always and forever bad

    Get over it commentards, this is hardly Google thought control! Phorm was 100 times worse than this.

    And, before you say it, it's not 'just the start' of something far more sinister either.

  45. raving angry loony

    SEO loses? I'm good with that.

    Aww, poor SEOs, trying to push crap that nobody wants to see ahead of what they DO want to see. I feel so sorry for them. Not.

    I'm for Google on this one. If they can make the SEO business model completely unprofitable, maybe we'll get back to search results that match what I search for. Mind you, won't help me much, cookies get deleted whenever I restart Firefox. Ooops.

    1. Inachu
      Pint

      Aww poor SEO's?????

      So this means you want spoon fed results even if the results are not fresh and new?

      Your spoon fed life style will soon leave you in the dark.

      Giving search based on cookies will really only be good for customers who use your site and not for a broad spectrum of what other people have on their various sites around the world which could be of a higher relevant nature that what googles so called psychic math.

      Getting personal search results is only good for the INTRANET and I see this fail in the future.

      But the idea does seem good if it really did bring in fresh new results based on your search history.

      I do not see thing really working very well for at least another 8 to 10 years.

      I myself have been studying SEO's techniques for 12 years and while Googles goal sounds nice... I place doubt in it because the freshness of the content.

      I mean really now. Would you find your searches stil acceptable even if the results felt old like you see the resutls showing the same stuff over and over?

      Consider me disabling my cookies for now on.

      I do not need a mind reader for a search engine.

      Google lost that loving feeling.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have not received all results in years

    For years, Google has essentially censored its results based on you location, Google's working relationship with your country and its laws, and most anything else. Several years back, it began changing its product descriptions, licenses, privacy statements, etc. to remove various commitments about its services to users while removing things that restricted its own operations.

    You don't have even the statement that search results being generated algorithmically without filtering or modification by people.

    The suggestions for changing settings or blocking cookies are so quaint I could not resist smiling. Stop for a second and consider all your interactions with the many parts of Google and with online place that Google is monitoring in real time. Begin with how google-analytics scripts are used my many websites to gather site statistics, in turn providing Google enormous amounts and detail of your browisng patterns.

    Next come things like GoogleAds and another bunch of data. Then Blogger, YouTube, Twitter and a lot more. All this before you do a single Google search or use one of the GoogleApps.

    Now take a look at the Google "home page" and see if you have any idea what all that code and all those scripts are doing or what data they access. What had been a simple 8k of HTML is now over ten tiimes larger, not counting all those it includes from other sites.

    1. mitch 2

      customising google

      The wonderful Firefox "CustomizeGoogle" plugin goes some way towards addressing these conserns. It can anonymise google cookies and suppress sending cookies to google analytics.

      It also gives you the ability to permanently filter out annoying sites from your search results with a single click. Brilliant.

  47. JohnA 1
    Thumb Down

    El Reg defending SEOs?

    Next we will see an article on how Google is being so evil because they don't help pedophiles hide from law enforcement..

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burn the SEO Monsters!

    though my tongue is a bit in my cheek, they are a nuisance overall, but then so is marketing.

    That is why I buy Casio G Shocks, which incidentally can be found at http://...

    The truth is you have to optimise in some way because of the SEOs, it is the same as any form of advertising, if you are not there, then you don't get the punters.

    I think a better way would be to split the search engines up, if you are just after info, and put your handup if you have published some articles that are genuinely useful, then that can be searched without the products. And the produce sites into another search engine, where they can battle it out.

    Sure they will be some crossover but it would make life simpler, as sometimes I do want to find items to purchase.

  49. bluest.one
    Alert

    OMG! Cookie Monster is coming to rape us!

    It only works as long as you have your Google cookie. Delete it and you're back to un-personalised results. Set Firefox (or whatever) to delete cookies on exit and you're golden. Or maybe there's a plug-in to delete cookies (that aren't protected, perhaps) every x minutes?

    Either way, you should be cleaning out your cookies regularly except for the ones you want to keep. Business as usual for me and a lot of others I would imagine.

    Imagine! A site that tracks your usage on its site though cookies!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Bye Bye SEO Firms!!!

    Nothing would make me happier than a bunch of snake oil peddling SEO firms going under. Good riddance!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Good points from both sides

    Though SEO seems to be getting a bit of a bashing here. Yes some bad egg SEO people just want to fill the results with junk and blogs of irellevant data, so they can make some adsense money, but a LOT of SEO isnt about that. Its about getting your new site, product or such to a relevant target audience. This smacks as the beginning of the filtered internet age. no more small startups taking on Goliaths as they have no hope of being included in relevant search results on the top few listings. How long until google charge advertisers a fee to bump them up in targeted searches? Then its game over for the small boys and quids in for the big boys.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Oh those evil SEOs

    Seriously... it's amazing how quickly a conversation can devolve when IT folk start talking about SEO. Like we're so different. Let's try it from an SEO's point of view: "Aww, poor IT geeks, trying to push crap that nobody wants to use ahead of what they DO want to use. I feel so sorry for them. Not."

    Wow, that was easy.

    BTW, any SEO worth their salt is better off the more complicated Google makes things for people - eventually, everyone needs the guy who knows what the hell's going on. You know, kind of like IT in general.

  53. Richard Porter
    WTF?

    Web history?

    I can't find any link to Web history at the top right of the results page, or anywhere else.

  54. John Sanders
    Big Brother

    I for one...

    Wecome our new Google overlords...

    Google is not good nor evil... sure it's something else...

  55. David Gosnell

    Suspected this has been happening

    Have been aware of "inconsistent" search results for some time, and this would fit with that. So long as the results remain useful, Google keep my vote. I have long campaigned that the only SEO worth having comes down to basic good web practice, coupled with standards-compliance and accessibility. Point proven, will have to update my FAQ to reflect this theory-become-reality.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    This (to some extent) has been messing with google results for some time.

    I've noticed increasingly that google has failed to give the same results on two computers - sometimes the results from the exact same search can be wildly different. It's only gonna get worse now! :(

  57. rayofsunshine

    In defence of SEO

    So where is all this hate coming from exactly? I'm guessing a position of general ignorance.

    OK, I'm with you on the few blackhat techniques that still work for a small number of scammers, and I guess if you spend a lot of time searching for porn, sexually helpful medicines and 'illegal' content then it's their sites you'll be bombarded with.

    And yes there are an awful lot of cowboys around, (including a lot of web designers / developers selling 'search' services), but since they basically don't know what they're doing it's not their work you'll find on page 1 of Google. They 'just' fleece unsuspecting clients.

    And finally yes, part of an SEOs job is to manipulate SERPS in favour of their clients. Next time you find something useful to buy that's not from Amazon or Tesco have a think about how and why that site appeared in your search results.

    Proper SEO work is about providing targeted search results to the user, and that's for the very simple reason that if it's not targeted, the user won't make a purchase on the site and the client is wasting money. Providing a blizzard of crap in the SERPs isn't going to have any better RoI than mass email spamming (see various El Reg articles on who makes money from that).

    Long-term SEM (serach engine marketing) work is about content, site architecture, hosting and a lot more besides the kind of knuckle-dragging techniques many of the commenters on here seem to think might work. And personally I'd rather find relevant useful websites than see half a dozen results for Wikipaedia, Amazon's nearest product match and a few blog posts.

    SEO's really shouldn't carp too loudly about changes to Google algorithims, it's part of the job to stay ahead of the game, but this mob anger is all a bit witless.

    I'll give you that it's an essentially parasitic job, and as such bearing no comparison to such essential services as providing IT support, systems security or network management.

    I can live with that and even feel ok that I've doubled the orders for a family welding business in Rochdale, and added £250k of fundraising income to a major charity. And not even gamed your search for 'debbie does dallas'.

    Have a lovely Christmas, one and all

  58. -tim

    There are other search engines out there

    I've been using av.com more and more lately since its giving much better results than google does. Altavista was the first of the big search engines so if you like the results the old school Google, It might give you the results you expect.

  59. Kanhef

    Overreacting much?

    Other than paranoid 'privacy' claims, what are the drawbacks of this? Consider the C# programmer - clicking on links to C# sites leads to them being ranked higher and Java sites ranked lower. This is good: additional relevant links become visible, so you're actually exposed to a wider variety of useful sites, not fewer.

    The complaints about SEO are a response to the abusive techniques that have been used, including invisible text and linkspamming fake blogs. Yes, a certain amount of self-promotion is necessary, but do it honestly and call it marketing. Make *people* aware of your site and product, not just search engines.

    Also, since when do searches have to return the same results repeatedly? They change by the day as the Web does; why not by the minute? A bit of randomization makes more sites become visible on the first (or first n) pages. Good for the websites, good for the user.

  60. Charles Manning

    SEOs should spin this into more business

    Tell their suckers^h^h^h^h^hcustomers that Google has changed the search mechanism and the customers need more SEO snake oil to work in the new era.

  61. Graham Marsden

    SEOs are not all bad

    My business website uses a SEO simply because without it my shopping cart system just comes up with a URL that's a meaningless alpha-numeric stream instead of the name of the product which makes it harder to search for (as well as bookmark).

    That doesn't ITEM mean I'm ITEM trying to BUZZWORD game the ITEM system by UNRELATED BUT POPULAR SEARCH TERM loading the page ITEM with other INFORMATION information which will BUZZWORD push my ITEM up the GOOGLE results...

  62. Sarah Davis
    WTF?

    Do i have this problem ?

    I'm not sure i qualify for this problem. I have never installed google toolbar or chrome, and as such (to my knowlage) my google web history has never been active.

    So now i'm anxious over something that may not effect me and i need closure (where's my meds)

  63. RW
    FAIL

    Counterproductive

    To take the example of someone who regularly clicks on links to epicurious.com when searching for recipes: They already know about epicurious.com and epicurious.com has its own site-specific search, so promoting epicurious links toward the top of the hit list is exactly what you wouldn't want. You would want to see recipes at sites *other* *than* the ones you usually click, no?

    The whole point of search engines is to point you to sites you don't already know about.

    Google has it backwards.

  64. joespr

    clear cookies, that's all

    IF the article is correct, and Google is doing all this based on cookies, then do what I do:

    => Clear cookies before and after every search, before and after every visit to any website.

    It's simpler and easier and quicker with Firefox than with IE, which another reason to use Firefox, but that is my choice.

    => Clear cookies before and after every search, before and after every visit to any website.

    and Google won't know who you are, and won't know what sites you visited before.

  65. noodle heimer

    those crying are not webmasters

    The title claims webmasters are up in arms about this.

    The webmasters I know are fine with this. They design pages, do some front-ends for databases, and generally work on getting things out there for people to read on websites. Honest work.

    Metz' piece does not quote any upset webmasters, either, despite the title - though the lede gets it right. SEO types are unhappy. Especially the lazy ones who wanted to be able to keep selling the same old crap to every new customer for the same outrageous fees.

    Boo hoo hoo.

  66. ratfox Silver badge
    Go

    There is a big difference between Google and SEO

    Google wants to give me search results I want to click on, and sponsored links are clearly marked..

    SEO want to give me search results THEY want me to click on. And considering how little I want to visit commercial web sites, what I want and what they want rarely coincide.

  67. Sellotaped to Insanity
    Welcome

    And so ...

    If people are that bothered by the GORG, use Yahoo or AltaVista.... I'm sorry to all the SEO business owners out there, but the SEO business was always going the way of the dinosaur as companies like Google & Yahoo etc try to make search more specific to the user: that's their business.

    @Inachu - spoon fed: somewhat over dramatic ...

  68. David Griffin
    Happy

    What good SEO is about

    If there's one thing I've learnt from all my exposure to SEO it is this

    - make your site clearer and more relevant to the user and it will get higher

    - this way Google's huge resources and talent are working in your favour.

    This announcement does not change that.

    If the user has clicked on your site (or its ilk) before then your site is more relevant and deserves to be higher in their personal search.

    The less reputable side of SEO (the "something for nothing" guys, with their link farms etc) deserve to fall by the wayside, as they just reduce the quality of everyone's experience.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    death of SEO

    What Google needs is an 'Utter CRAP' link, right next to 'Cached' or 'Similar' or 'Quick View'.

    Make me log in, or captcha, but at least let me report the garbage so that we dont have to suffer through so much crap.

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