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How Google Tracks Your Search History

How Google Tracks Your Search History 7986-daily-golden-nugget-817This edition of the Daily Golden Nugget isn't really about how your website works, but rather a little explanation of how Google search technology work now across all platforms.

I'd like to say it's common knowledge that your web browser keeps a history of all your visited websites, but let me explain how this works just in case you don't... On any Windows computer you can open up your web browser and press Ctrl+H to open your recent history of pages you've visited. The keyboard shortcuts on a Mac are not standardized and you might have to press the Cmd+Y or Cmd+Shift+H or some other combination.

Finding this browsing history hidden away in your computer might be startling, and some businesses will even use this information against you if they have policies prohibiting personal use of work computers. But this is not the only place where your browsing history is saved... All your Google search history is saved within your personal Google account.

I'm not sure if I'm a typical user or not, but I keep my web browser logged into my Google account all day long. When you are logged into your own account Google will remember all the searches you do and save them forever. This is how they were able to develop the ability to create personalized search results for every one of us.

Want to see your browsing history? Go here:
Google will probably require you to log in again.

According to my own search history the #1 site I search for repeatedly is for Test Credit Card Numbers, which is true since I'm always testing e-commerce websites. The second most popular site I click on is Google Maps (go figure) and then the website for JA New York.

Your search history can be sorted by Web, Images, News, Shopping, Ads, Videos, Maps, Blogs, Books, Visual, Travel, and Finance. Google shows you this list in the left margin according to how much you use them, and in my case those last 3 categories have zero search history while my Web search history goes back years.

All this combined search history is the basis for the profile that Google builds around you. In my case, if I search for "Dart" I'm likely to see results about the emerging Dart programming language rather than results for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system. (Yeah, I just tested this to see if my suspicion was right.)

You see, Google knows that I'm a computer programmer based on my search history but if I took a hiatus from searching for programming topics I could start to change my profile, and therefore my customized search pages would start to show different results.

Search history is not only tracked on your desktop computer; it's actually tracked from every device that allows you to sign in to your Google account. This includes you smartphone, tablet, Xbox, PS3 and anything that has a keyboard/screen/internet connection. Google is also tracking where you are when you sign in.

Log into your Google account and navigate yourself over to this screen to see you recent login activity:

That page will show you the dates and locations of your sign-ins.

All this personal data is why it's so difficult to rank your jewelry store's website as #1 for any specific keyword.

A person who has never searched for jewelry but one day randomly searches for "wedding rings" will be shown results that are based on their location and then the best optimized jeweler's website. Most likely they will see results from a few local jewelers but Tiffany & Co, Zale, and BlueNile will also be on the list.

On the other hand, if that initial search for wedding rings might have been the first hint that the person is about to get engaged. A few more searches for rings or engagement rings is all Google needs to know before it starts estimating what other types of sites the person will soon visit. You should assume that Google has an entire portfolio of related sites that lie in waiting for the soon-to-be-wed including wedding venues,, tux rentals, wedding dress stores, florists, musicians, etc.

The bottom line of today's Nugget was to explain to you how personalization works for everyone, and how to access your own personal browsing history. But there's also a hint of an idea that you could join forces with all the local businesses that provide services for weddings. You could then dedicate a section of your website to share links and business profiles so your website can clearly feed into Google's portfolio of local wedding related websites.

AT: 09/10/2013 06:57:47 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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