Google’s personal search makes the search engine useless

I’d noticed for some time that I wasn’t getting very good results from searches on Google.  Kate Phizackerley explains why:

I really hate what Google has done with search.  If I search for the Valley of the Kings of KV64 I looking for something I don’t already know, for news.  It’s bad enough for Valley of the Kings and even worse for KV64 because my News from the Valley of the Kings is the top blog on the subject and I have written much of the material about KV64.

Google’s new personalised search algorithm makes matters worse.  It shrinks the world.  So as well as News from the Valley of the Kings, half of the images shown are photographs I took and the front pages adds my review of Nick Reeves’ Complete Valley of the Kings on Egyptological.  Far from helping me to find new material it shrinks my world, not just down to things I already know, but down to things I have written.  You’d have to be extremely narcissistic to like a search that works like that.

Fortunately it only works if you are logged in so I work with two browsers and only log in to Google on one of them, the other I use for searching.  I can see the advantage of geo-searches.  If I type in Sutton cinema, I like the fact search shows me the programme.  That is useful.  But not search which makes me the apparent centre of the World Wide Web.

That calls for a test.  So, I fired up Safari and went to the google.co.uk page and ran a test for “Roger Pearse”.  It gave one set of results.  Then I swapped over to IE, where I am logged into Google, and did the same — and I got another set.  They were not the same.

Neither set was particularly special.  But you’d expect consistency!

This is like the problem with Google Books Search where Google doesn’t show books to non-Americans — annoying but Europublishers threatened them — but worse, doesn’t show them in the search results so you never know that you’re missing them.

Stop it, Google.  Stop doing this kind of thing.  A search should give the same results.  Anything else is a pain in the butt, unless or until you can (a) see the modifiers being used, explicit, obvious, listed at the top of the page and (b) decide to turn them off.

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