Major Google Discovery That Will Affect All Gmail Users!

33 replies
Hi guys,

I just came across a pretty distrubing discovery that will affect all Gmail users.

I was talking to a marketing friend of mine over in the States a couple hours ago and we were discussing a product of mine that I've been dedicating a lot of my time to recently. It's a very specific niche site in an unexploited market for which I'm driving organic traffic using SEO.

This morning, we were talking over Skype and have noticed recently that our search results in Google are differing dramatically.

The problem seems to be Gmail. If you have a Google account (and this may also be applicable to toolbar users) then Google quite kindly takes it upon themselves to "improve your experience" by saving your web history and tailoring the search results to suit you!

Great if you're an innocent bystander looking for information, potentially awful for us marketers.

The problem is, you can wok months and months using effective and powerful SEO and traffic-generation strategies for it all to be ruined by Google.

Here's how it affects us...

While you're investing time and effort into various SEO techniques, you're probably visiting your site on average 2-3 times a day to tweak it and add content.

The problem is, each of these visits is a valid inclusion in your Google web history. Awesome.

Over the course of a few weeks you might be seeing your rankings rise. Little do you know that it's only applicable to YOUR search results!

Test it now...
  1. Go to Google.com (click "go to Google.com" if you're not based in the US) and perform a search for "make money online" for example.
  2. Make a note of one of the sites on the first page that is NOT a sponsored link and it's position in the SERPs.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for something along the lines of "Google saves web history to provide users with a better experience" and click on the link next to it that says more details.
  4. Click the link that says search without enabling web history and refer back to the site you noted down earlier. Is it still in the same position?
From what I can fathom out, this applies only to members with a Google Account, hence Gmail users.

If possible, could you please spend 2-3 minutes to test the above and see what happens for you. I just came across this and thought instantly of WF members.

If we can come to a conclusion about this, then perhaps this thread should be made a sticky or something to help people falling into this trap themselves!

Just a thought...

Connor
#affect #discovery #gmail #google #major #optimization #rankings #search engine #seo #users
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Williams
    Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post

    Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for something along the lines of "Google saves web history to provide users with a better experience" and click on the link next to it that says more details.
    I don't see this anywhere on Google. Maybe I'm doing something wrong >_>
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  • Profile picture of the author Gene Pimentel
    I don't see it either
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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    Are you both logged in to your Google accounts?
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  • Profile picture of the author Gene Pimentel
    yes, logged into gmail
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Williams
    Of course I am, I'm not THAT dumb (checks again .... yup I'm logged in).
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  • Profile picture of the author StevenSaliba
    This is interesting. At my dad's house, the search results were different for his keywords. He has a gmail account and is always logged in.
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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    I have to admit, this is really, REALLY strange. I've been having the same problem as you Steven for ages and finally worked out.

    What I can't work out, however, is how Gene and Spire don't have the same problem. I've not a clue what on earth is going on or why you guys are seeing this, but Google seem to have a massive problem with the size of their ego

    If it's worth anything, I was in Firefox 3.5 when I came across this...

    Any techie's offer any advice?
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Williams
      Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post

      I have to admit, this is really, REALLY strange. I've been having the same problem as you Steven for ages and finally worked out.

      What I can't work out, however, is how Gene and Spire don't have the same problem. I've not a clue what on earth is going on or why you guys are seeing this, but Google seem to have a massive problem with the size of their ego

      If it's worth anything, I was in Firefox 3.5 when I came across this...

      Any techie's offer any advice?
      3.5.3 here. It's probably not Gmail then... It might be some other option or something.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gene Pimentel
    Very strange indeed. Can you give us a screen shot of what you're seeing ("Google saves web history to provide users with a better experience")?

    Maybe it's based on geographic data, or maybe it's just showing up randomly as a test?
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  • Profile picture of the author TomBond
    This is known as personalised search. Just log out of your account to check SERPs, or do it through a proxy server, or use this tool Scroogle Scraper
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  • Profile picture of the author tecHead
    When you open your gMail account for the first time, they ask you if you want to participate in (can't think of the actual jargon right now)... that stuff (heh).

    You can opt-out.

    Ever since they bought double-click, (or whatever that ad network was called); the one that had a lawsuit against them for violating privacy laws; I tend to opt-out of everything where I'm asked if I wanna send them my "anonymous" data. Call me paranoid.

    Yet, as far as SEO is concerned.. IMHO, its (SEO) going to get more and more ambiguous as the rest of the Internet continues to embrace Social Media/Networking. More and more advances in "clique type" collective collaboration features are added to the social networks everyday.

    EGADS!! The Consumer is taking over the Internet!

    This generation that's coming into control uses email hardly, instant messaging less than before and the social networks more and more. Everything is moving mobile; which means they can take FB, Twitter, MySpace, Skype etc. with them on the go. Wi-fi is just about everywhere, now. (I'm stopping myself now from going on a rant).

    Bottom line is; IMHO, either stop counting on SEO techniques of old and concentrate on building your social rep OR bite the bullet and get ready for less customers.

    Gotta love technology
    PLP,
    tecHead
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  • Profile picture of the author AmyBrown
    Isn't it common knowledge that Google's web history changes how results are displayed? I find it amusing when people show screenshots of their search position and I can tell they're logged in to their Google account.
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    "Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast."
    Tom Peters

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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    Bjorn,

    I hope you know that no-one will buy your WSO if you go around finding every opportunity you can to advertise your product in threads such as this? Idiot.

    In response to tecHead, SEO still works. I drive traffic using SEO myself and can say that I've never had a problem and up until a few weeks ago hadn't spent a cent on PPC!

    I get what you're saying about SEO being less effective now than it used to be and I would tend to agree, but anyone who says social media is more effective than SEO is living in dreamland.

    At least for now. The majority of people on Twitter in particular are there only to build their email list. Hence, you're building up your list with other people who just want to build their's. Get it?

    Is social media an effective way of getting traffic? Yeah!

    Is social media an effective way of getting TARGETED traffic? At the moment, not a chance.
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    • Profile picture of the author tecHead
      Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post


      In response to tecHead, SEO still works. I drive traffic using SEO myself and can say that I've never had a problem and up until a few weeks ago hadn't spent a cent on PPC!

      I get what you're saying about SEO being less effective now than it used to be and I would tend to agree, but anyone who says social media is more effective than SEO is living in dreamland.

      At least for now. The majority of people on Twitter in particular are there only to build their email list. Hence, you're building up your list with other people who just want to build their's. Get it?

      Is social media an effective way of getting traffic? Yeah!

      Is social media an effective way of getting TARGETED traffic? At the moment, not a chance.
      OK, bro.

      But, just for the record... I wasn't referring to "today". The shift hasn't completed, yet. Sure SEO; (in its various facets); still has some merit. Personally, I just think its more of an 'addition' than a solution. I was more so talking about "tomorrow"; which is always more important (to me) than today because today is easy.

      Stay strong
      PLP,
      tecHead
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    • Profile picture of the author sjedwardz
      I noticed this a few weeks ago. The searches on one machine were coming back higher than when I went to my other location. Clear out coockies and not logging into anything google brought them more in line.

      Another thing though I can't seem to go to google.com , it always redirects me to google.co.uk ?!!?!?
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      • Profile picture of the author Nigel Greaves
        Originally Posted by sjedwardz View Post

        Another thing though I can't seem to go to google.com , it always redirects me to google.co.uk ?!!?!?
        Shaun,

        This will get you to Google.com - http://www.google.com/webhp

        Nigel
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      • Profile picture of the author Zeb
        Originally Posted by sjedwardz View Post

        I noticed this a few weeks ago. The searches on one machine were coming back higher than when I went to my other location. Clear out coockies and not logging into anything google brought them more in line.

        Another thing though I can't seem to go to google.com , it always redirects me to google.co.uk ?!!?!?
        As long as you're logged into your google account, g will keep track of your searches and remember your favorites. Making more visited sites higher etc when you do a search.

        Just log out and you should be cleared of this preference.

        As for getting .co.uk, it's because it's where you're from (your ip). Click on the link at the google homepage that says "go to google.com" and you'll get to .com. And your searches will be US based as well..
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  • Profile picture of the author Nigel Greaves
    I think is just down to you not opting out of "Web History". That's the part that leads to a customised search.

    Nigel
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  • Profile picture of the author cgallagher93
    Shaun,

    In addition there's also a link on Google UK that says Go To Google.com

    tecHead,

    I apologise if I misunderstood what you were saying and agree that in marketing we have to think ahead. But with so many people catching on to the social media scam, won't it just be saturated in a few years time?
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    • Profile picture of the author tecHead
      Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post

      tecHead,

      I apologise if I misunderstood what you were saying and agree that in marketing we have to think ahead. But with so many people catching on to the social media scam, won't it just be saturated in a few years time?
      Hey, it could; I mean I'm no swami... but... it just keeps growing... and evolving... and people love it; always have. The "social aspect" of it all. Social Media/Networking has brought the Internet into the 3D world more than any other facet of the net since its been commercialized.

      Put it this way; I just got my gWave invite finalized and all I can say is "whoa; we ain't in Kansas anymore, Toto". The APIs are pretty much wide open. If you've been watching; just about every new app and social app is pushing their API; with Google leading the way. The college IT kids are in the labs mashing stuff up that's gonna change the entire face of social media in a few years... starting 2010.

      PayPal is popping out new APIs in 2010. Technorati, Bing, MySpace, Yahoo and of course Google... they're all leading the way. So.. the whole "scam/spam/HARD sale" aspect of social media will be an avoidable evil; just like looking both ways before crossing the street. People tend to adapt when they desire to be ensconced.

      Of course... IMHO
      PLP,
      tecHead
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  • Profile picture of the author turbohips
    When I log out of Google everything goes back to normal and I can view search results as if it were my first time.
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    Larry Leight

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  • Profile picture of the author rcwilson4au
    This is exactly why you shouldn't put "all your eggs in one basket". We should always be working on SEO, but we should also have other ways of getting our sites traffic. All it takes is one simple "tweak" in the algorithm, and your site is off the first page.
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  • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
    Originally Posted by cgallagher93 View Post

    Hi guys,

    The problem seems to be Gmail. If you have a Google account (and this may also be applicable to toolbar users) then Google quite kindly takes it upon themselves to "improve your experience" by saving your web history and tailoring the search results to suit you!
    This isn't anything new. Google has had this feature since 2005 (Google Personalized Search Leaves Google Labs - Search Engine Watch (SEW))
    Signature

    :)

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  • Profile picture of the author Nelson Guedes
    I never use web history myself. I know how to disable it. Here it is:

    " Using Web History: Deleting
    You can delete Web History from your Google Account at any time. Just follow these steps:
    1. Click the My Account link from the Google homepage.
    2. Click Edit next to 'My products.'
    3. Click Delete Web History. Make sure you're signed in to your Google Account to see the My Account link.
    Note: deleting Web History from your Google Account will erase all items from your web history and stop your web history from being recorded in the future. You can also remove individual items without deleting all of your web history."


    Hope that helps


    PS: Sorry about the lack of links, I haven't achieved my 15 post mark yet....
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Zalesky
    People were talking about this several months ago. Google is starting something new how they want to track peoples habits and try and make their search results gear more towards what they search for on a daily basis. I dont see this going far because if you searched lets say one thing a lot over time then are trying to find something in the same niche but different you would always get the same results.

    Check your cookies as well since google may have one for this purpose. I wouldnt worry about it since I have several sites ranking very well in serps and I still get great traffic from overseas and in the US.

    Jason
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary McCaffrey
    Yea. This is why I always open up Safari when doing reasearch and rank checking on google, but in daily browing and working I use Firefox.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary McCaffrey
    Edit: Duplicate post...
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    • Profile picture of the author War_Guy
      I thought EVERY body knew about this.

      FYI, I use the Rank checker from seobook.com, firefox plugin. It asks if you want to use your history.
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  • Profile picture of the author jig
    This is why I try to use the Scroogle Scraper and stay logged out of Gmail when I'm not using it...
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  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Most sources say that this "search history" renamed "Web history" works only if you have the G. toolbar installed.

    Test.
    1. In my FF there is no G. toolbar - no such option.
    2. Opened an old IE, it has G. toolbar - the "Web History" link is up there next to Settings (where your login is)
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