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December 7, 2011

When Recent Searches Change Your Google Results

Google uses your search history to personalize the results for your future queries. That's not a new feature, but it was only used to disambiguate queries and to change the order of the results.

Now you might also see a small message next to the snippet which explains that the result was picked because you've searched for a different keyword before. For example, if you search for [tablet] and then search for [asus] Google will include some tablet-related search results and even highlight a page about the Asus Transformer. Right now, this feature is only available in the US.

Sometimes this could be useful. Google connects the dots and tries to provide better results by using keywords from your previous searches. But that's not always a good idea because two consecutive queries aren't necessarily related. You could search for [html table] and [blackberry] and the second result for [blackberry] will be:

Google's algorithms aren't perfect and Google should provide an obvious way to hide the "enhanced" results. You can scroll to the bottom of the page, click "view customizations" and then click "without these improvements", you can also "disable customizations based on search activity" if you aren't logged in, but these options are cumbersome.

{ Thanks, Nick. }


  1. There is also the verbatim mode that get rid of any personalization. No need to log out.

  2. Indeed, verbatim is the go-to tool if you don't want any predictive/algorithmic enhancements to your search.
    That said, I rarely use it because, for the most part, Google knows what it's doing. Funny that.

  3. You're right. Google's algorithm isn't perfect, but by far it is the best that we have and it isn't even close. I love your tips! Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Stop interfering in my searches! In private browsing for me

  5. I think google has lost sight of something. We don't always want the best result- there are many times we want the same result as everyone else. Have you ever been on the phone with someone trying to avoid having to spell out a URL? You tell them to google exactly what you googled, and now, this often leads to different results.


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