Personalized Search is here — try it
The volume of information on the Web makes it virtually impossible to find anything without the use of Search Engines. Increasingly we are using the search engine for all our information needs, and therefore what we find is getting ever more dependent on how search engines rank their results.
Search engines use various factors to rank their results, but the single most important factor is how many web sites link to a particular page. That is, Search Engines look at each link to a page as a vote of confidence for that page and ranks the most popular pages at the top. This works most of the time, but it has a significant limitation. Once a page climbs towards the top of the list for a specific search, more people find it, and therefore more people are likely to link to that same page. In other words, once a page reaches a high rank, it has a natural tendency to climb higher. Apart from this technical limitation, we also know that when it comes to reliable and useful information, popularity is not always the only or best indicator. If popularity decided truth then we’d still believe that the sun rotates around the earth.
Recognizing that this one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t satisfy everyone’s needs, Google is gradually moving towards “Personalized Search”, where the search results you see for a particular search term are going to be slightly different from what everyone else sees. The first step towards that is a feature called “Google Subscribed Links”. This allows each of us to impose our own preferences and needs on Google’s generic search results. Using this anyone can let Google know of the content providers they trust and Google then makes sure that results from these selected sites would come up on the first page of their results. For example, if you consider Encyclopaedia Britannica as one of your trusted source, all you have to do is to go to this page and click on the “Subscribe” button next to “Encyclopaedia Britannica”. If you don’t have an account on Google then you will have to create one using your existing e-mail address.
Once you subscribe to this feature, any time you search on Google for any topic where Britannica has an article, this will be offered to you as a special search result on the first page of Google results (currently the fourth result on the first page). Since it doesn’t affect the search results in any other way, there is absolutely no harm in keeping it there. So, give it a try and you won’t regret it. Let Google’s search results reflect your personal needs.