Without doubt, Google is the premier search engine for the Internet world. So much so that its name is both a noun and verb. We not only link to Google, but we also “google” stuff. Many of us “google” something several times a day because of its speed and accuracy of search results. But as a Google user, you may not know that this mighty search engine actually keeps track of your search history – of what, when, and where you looked for stuff on the Internet.
If you don’t know how Google does this, simply link over to http://www.google.com/history and sign into your account, if need be. On your Google search page, you will see a calendar that links to all your daily activities across the web, including recent searches on Google. It breaks down your search history into nine categories, including images, products, and blogs you’ve visited or searched for.
Advantages Of This Service
The advantages of this search history is pretty obvious. It can save you time in keeping track of your recent searches on Google. Searches are not as specific as keeping personalized bookmarks in your web browser, but say you spent a day or two researching a particular consumer product, or a topic for a school assignment. If you need to retrieve those queries and activity, you could simply click the dates in the calendar relevant to your search, or you could “google” the topic or keywords and have Google provide results based on your search history.
Also, you’ve no doubt noticed that when you begin typing in the Google search box in the Firefox or Safari web browser, for example, you typically get a list of suggested keywords that you might be looking for even before you finish typing. Those suggestions are based on your prior searches and visitations across the web, which in essence speeds up your search.
The search history also provides an organized list of sites and pages you visit the most. It keeps track of your web experiences only when you’re logged into your account. This is called “signed-in personalization”. However, if you share your computer with others and you don’t sign out from your Google account, the results reflect searches by other users.
Disadvantages Of This Service
One of the biggest disadvantages to this is that if your Google account is ever accessed by others, they can view your recent searches on Google. If you log into your Google account on another computer and don’t log out, any searches done by other users can be saved to your account.
For example, when I view my Google search history, it includes topics like “horse riding,” the “California State lottery,” and “buddytv.” These topics reflect the web activity of other members in my household, not me. But what might this service mean for users accessing their Google account on their job or public computer? If users don’t log out of their account, their search history is available to anyone who accesses it.
Removing Searches from your history
If there are some surreptitious search results that you would liked removed from your web history , it’s pretty easy to do so. Simply log into your web history account and click the “Remove items“ link. You can delete selected links or your entire web history. However, remember, if you delete your entire history, Google will have to rebuild your signed-in personalization history, so all your new searches may take a little longer to conduct on your computer.
If you’re conducting some searches that you don’t want recorded, simply click the Pause link to turn off the service for your account. It remains paused until you re-enable it. You can also go into the settings of your Google account and totally disable the service all together. When you link into your Google account, click on My Account, and where it says “My products,” click Edit. From there you can remove the service.
Personally I don’t view my Google search history that much, but after doing some research for this article, I can see some advantages to accessing it from time to time, especially when I haven’t bookmarked relevant searches I might want to review. But for users who conduct surreptitious searches on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to disable the service all together and use other free services like Delicious to maintain and manage your private bookmarks.
So do you access your Google web history regularly? Do you find the service useful, or do you think it invades your privacy? Let us know.
In an upcoming article, I will explain how to clear previous Google searches in popular web browsers.
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