Personalized search results allow the search engine user, according to Google, to receive “..more relevant, useful search results, recommendations, and other personalized features.”
In our opinion, while this system has its advantages (more relevancy, more "usefulness") the problems with personalized search, along with personalized news from Google, are that they inherently reinforce a person’s biases and potentially limit their knowledge base. This “self-selecting", personalized search could eliminate information that might expand a person’s understanding, or challenge their point of view. This is especially troubling when it comes to current events and news related topics because the differences in personalization can be so drastic and potentially polarizing.
For examples of these differences visit: http://www.thefilterbubble.com/what-is-the-internet-hiding-lets-fin....
Here are three reasons why this is important to independent publishers:
(1) As content producers, independent publishers can gain a marketing advantage from repeat visitors.
The best reason to support personalized search is that it can help support a small business. When you provide credible, meaningful online content that benefits Internet users, they can express approval of your work by by clicking through the search results to your site, and/or +1ing your listing or content (Blog, Book Cover, JPG, Video, etc.). This will rank your work much higher in that one person’s Google Account. If you continue to produce valuable content, this will increase the probability that this user will see your content rank highly and return to your platform where you can convert them into a customer (There is an old marketing maxim that a customer has to see your product seven times before they buy).
(2) If someone has a bias against your topic
If you are trying, through advocacy or through a publication, to change someone’s mind then be aware that you will need to work "upstream" against not only their own perceptive bias' but it is also important to know that, thanks to personalized search, it is that much harder to get your message in front of them. Plans, and contingency plans, within a campaign should take into account the fact that the personalized search bias may work against you and may limit the usefulness of Google as a tool which would otherwise help your website to be found.
(3) Skewed Research Results
When you do research on Google, be aware that what you click (and +1) will impact future search results. If your writing is stimulated by pushing the boundaries of your understanding of a paradigm, this might stifle your creativity and impact your final product. You can find out what Google has inferred about yourself by visiting: www.google.com/ads/preferences/. To opt out of this preference based program also visit: www.google.com/ads/preferences/.
It’s important to recognize because if you, like us, keep track of your own ranking for specific keywords, it is worth noting that by +1ing your own site, you are skewing the potential data.
For more information on Search Personalization:
3rd Party Explanation in a nutshell: http://searchengineland.com/google-now-personalizes-everyones-searc...
Google Page on Personalization: http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=54041
(The preferences are based on a cookie, so using a different computer, clearing your cookies, or even a different browser, will reset these preferences.)
To see Google's Personalized understanding of "You": http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/
To Opt-out of Personalized Search and News services:
Google Opt-out Info: http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answ... and www.google.com/ads/preferences/.
Microsoft Opt-out: http://choice.live.com/advertisementchoice/