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Friday June 10, 2005 10:20 am
Effective Web Search with Google’s “My Search History” Tool
You were looking for certain information on the web. After several attempts using different words and phrases with your favorite search engine, you finally have found the required information but, as it happens, forgot to bookmark the pages. In a few days when you needed to check out the same pages again, to your utter dismay, you realized that you couldn’t recall how you searched out those pages. Sounds familiar? If you are like me, you probably face this problem quite frequently! Finding the right page link you are seeking from the browser’s history feature, out of hundreds of pages that you have visited recently, is not easy either! More over, browser’s history page remembers where you have been as you browse the web for a limited time only. Things may be a little easier if you use Google Desktop search or similar tools from other search engines, but again if you don’t always use the same computer, even this might not be of much help.
My Search History – a new Google feature
However, thanks to new “My Search History” feature from Google, now you are able to overcome this difficulty. The service, which is still at beta stage and released just recently, provides complete search history of all the past searches made through Google once you install it. The search histories are stored on Google’s servers, this enables you to access search histories from any computer. From your search history page you are able to make a query on the search history itself. On the history page at the right side you can see the search words or phrases used for making a query, time of the query made, pages visited related to the query and the page link. At the left side, there is a calendar to check out the search made by you on an earlier date. It also shows how many searches you have done on a certain day and how intense your search activity was on each day. A neat feature, which will help you get rid of the problem mentioned in the beginning of the article, will show you relevant search results from your “My History Pages” along with the new search results while you make a query. “This feature of Google Web search enables you to find information you thought you lost”, Google claims on its site.
How to install?
In order to add this feature go to the “My Search History” link on your Google home page and search results pages, by clicking the My Search History link on Google Labs, or by going directly to http://www.google.com/searchhistory. If you ever registered with any of Google’s services, i.e. Gmail, Newsgroups, Froogle, etc. you may use same user name and password to install this feature. If you don’t have account with Google as yet, don’t worry unlike Gmail account you can go to the following page https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount and create a new account. Once you created an account, you can turn on “My Search History”, which will add the link to your Google home page and search results pages.
Is this feature something new?
This is actually not a new feature on the Internet. This service of Google has striking similarity to the one already existed on Meta Search tool www.a9.com. Other search engines like www.askjeeves.com and little know www.findory.com also have some thing similar incorporated to their systems. A9 also has a feature called “Discover”, which along with your search results recommends sites relevant to the query. The My Yahoo Search test released in October also enables users to save, share and post notes on their own search results.
There is always a reason to be concerned when your Internet activities are tracked and kept by any company. However, Google has taken several steps so that a user can have total control on how he exploits this service. First, you have to log on in order to use this feature. Your log in status is visible all the time on the Google home page. If you can see your account name on top right side of the page, this means you are signed in. If you don’t want certain searches to be tracked by Google, you have two choices. Either you can suspend the service for a while by clicking on the “pause” button or just log off from the service. You can also erase search results from history page by clicking on “Remove” link. Combination of all these mechanisms will allow you to keep your searches private and protected. However, if you are overly concerned about privacy, you better refrain from using this feature.
Most of Google’s features carry great values for users. The personalization of search processes using “My Search History” allows you to get a better search experience. It’s a significant leap towards creating an ideal search system. The benefits of this feature for Google are also enormous! Almost all of Google’s revenue comes from search ads. Naturally, Google’s ability to provide more refined search results to users will allow vendors better targeting their market niche. They would spend substantially more if they could show ads to users based on their past search history. But, Google claims that at this moment it is not planning to post any ads on your history pages.
No doubt, this is an interface that many of us have been waiting for quite a while. However, its impact on the future of search engines remains to be seen!
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