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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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wtf is up with these customized Google SERPs?

So I posted an article yesterday about a book review I'd read about a brain researcher named Michael Gazzaniga, and then this morning I got a Google Alert for my name which referred to the article. But it tagged my LJ version of the article instead of my own personal writing site, which I don't totally understand but whatev…

But the real kicker I don't get is that when I Googled the reviewer's name and the author's name together, the third result on the SERP was my LJ article. But I'm totally positive that my no-traffic/no-inbound-linked LJ post about this book could possibly be that high on Google's search results. And sure enough, when I Googled the same thing on my iPhone, my article was nowhere to be found in the search results.

So, my question: does Google spoon-feed me my own writing in search results I make from my own heavily cookied, Google-indexed web browser? And if so, why? Because I could be sitting here thinking, "YES, this is AWESOME, I'm #3 Google result on this search" and it is totally and completely bogus.

See for yourself:


This LJ post of mine isn't on your search results page, is it?

(BTW, for the non-geeks out there, a SERP is a Search Engine Results Page.)

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corenrind March 4th, 2012
Actually it is! But I thought it might be because I had already seen that post, so I tried a Chrome incognito window and it was still #3.

I was curious because I run into this at my job a lot. I try and keep track of our SEO and always have to turn everything off and use a browser I never use (or go incognito) and make sure it isn't using the web history option even if I'm logged out. I think Google definitely DOES spoon-feed. Which I don't hate in every circumstance, but it's a little weird that the internet experience isn't objective any more.

I get the feeling they've added lots of other sneaky stuff lately that personalizes it anyway. Particularly for ads, if not search results. I'm not sure.

iamom March 5th, 2012
It really is? I wonder why it didn't kick in on my iPhone then. Were you using your standard browser? Maybe it fed you a result from the livejournal.com domain because you're already active on that.

This shit drives me sort of nuts, actually. When I googled this today, I got articles like this and others which make me feel like search has just gone completely non-objective now. The other thing that drives me nuts is when I'm on some totally random website and a Facebook widget points out to me which specific FB friends of mine have also visited or liked this page. And I totally haven't opted in to FB passing my whole flist to any bloody site I ever visit.

I'm not sure I dig the boundary-less world we live in online these days. Thank God I'm not actually doing anything nefarious online, because if I were I'd be fucked -- whoever wanted to know, would know.

dizziedumb March 6th, 2012
this is where google and Facebook get creepy for me. in fact i'm borderline on deleting my Facebook, simply because it feels more like a facebot, you know? i would definitely not prefer to have the pages i've visited shared online, just as i find it weird to see these updates shared about my friends. google was created to be "intuitive," so it doesn't surprise me that it alters results to accommodate the user. it is, however, creepy and unnecessary.

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