Sunday, January 10, 2010

Google Personalized Results

Google has become tremendously important to genealogists.  Some, such as myself, use their blogging platform to share their research.  Others use Google alerts to stay on top of what others are posting about their surnames.  Many more use the search function to try to find ancestors, research help and a multitude of other items.

Over the past month, you may have noticed a difference in your searches.  If once a week you search for your surname, the same sights now seem to be at the top of the list and genealogy sites seem to be a majority of the hits you receive.  It almost seems as if the Google search bar now knows who you are and creates personalized results.

Indeed, this is now the case.  In December, in an uncharacteristicly quiet move, Google launched a new personalized search result tool.  When signed into Google, they now keep the information you searched for 180 days.  If they notice you view the links for RootsWeb ofter, other RootsWeb links will then get more weight in the search logarithm.  What does this mean for genealogists?  It can be both a help and a hindrance.  By "knowing" that you often search for genealogy related items, it will push those items to the top of your list.  I have found the problem that it keeps putting the same sites to the top of my search list, making it more difficult to find new sites that may have information for me.

This is the wave of the future for the internet.  If you do not like it, however, there is an option to opt-out of this personalized searching.  Follow the instructions posted here.

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