Autocuration Signals in My Personalised Google Search Results

I spotted this for the first time last night:

Auto-curation signals in my search results

I had actually read the post in the Google Reader context (so Google knew that), but I wonder: if I hadn’t read the post, would it still have shown up like that?

As far as personalised ranking signals go:

– does the fact that I subscribe to the feed in Google Reader affect the rank of items from that feed in my personalised search results?
– if I have read the post in Google reader, does that also affect the rank of that specific post in my personalised search results?

If I have shared a link – through Google+, or Twitter, for example – are the ranking of those links positively affected in my personalised search results. That is, might social search actually be most useful when the Goog picks up on things I have shared myself, and then “reminds” me of them via a ranking boost in my personalised search results when I’m searching on a related topic?

Maybe tweeting and sharing into the void is actually yet another way of invisibly building search refinements into your personalised search context?

A Final Nail in the Coffin of “Google Ground Truth”?

I’ve written before about how Google’s personalisation features threaten the notion of some sort of “Google Ground Truth”, the ability for two different individuals in different locations to enter the same term into the Google search box, and get back similar results (e.g. Another Nail in the Coffin of “Google Ground Truth”?).

So what threats are there? Google Personalised Search for logged in Google users is one obvious source of differences, as are regional differences from the different national search engines (e.g. google.ca versus google.co.uk).

With more and more browsers become location aware, I wonder whether we will increasingly see regional, or even hyperlocal, differences in standard web search based on browser location (something that presumably already exists in the local search engines).

Social signals (links from your friends or amplified by them) and real time signals also act as potential sources of difference for personalised ranking factors.

And for users engaged in a search session, the ranking of results you see in the third search in a session may even be influenced by the terms (and results you clicked on?!) in the first or second queries of that session.

Anyway, it seems that as of the weekend, there is another threat – perhaps a final threat – to that notion: Personalized Search for everyone:

Previously, we only offered Personalized Search for signed-in users, and only when they had Web History enabled on their Google Accounts. What we’re doing today is expanding Personalized Search so that we can provide it to signed-out users as well. This addition enables us to customize search results for you based upon 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser. It’s completely separate from your Google Account and Web History (which are only available to signed-in users). You’ll know when we customize results because a “View customizations” link will appear on the top right of the search results page. Clicking the link will let you see how we’ve customized your results and also let you turn off this type of customization.

Chris Lott also made a very perceptive comment:

PS It also looks like Google are looking for even more traffic data to help feed their stats collection’n’analysis engines: Introducing Google Public DNS

PPS it seems that Google just announced real time search results integration into the Google homepage. It’s still rolling out, but here’s a preview of what the integration looks like:

Read more at Relevance meets the real-time web. Exciting times…

PPPS Seems like there’s no global, or necessarily even national, ground truth in Google Suggest results either: Google localised Suggest