Google Search History

Google Search History

I almost missed this one as there was an obscure post relating to MSN and they mentioned it as an aside but Google now has a new way to help you manage your search history.

If you go to Google labs you’ll find a new tool called ”My Search History” which, when clicked on, allows you to sign into your Gmail account (or create a Google account) and it will store your search history for you. From what terms you searched for but didn’t click on any results, to those sites you did visit when clicking on results.

It only seems to work on the main Google search results (no images, news or groups yet) and doesn’t seem to work on other regional Google sites (such as But again, I’m sure that will come with time. Or look at this result in Google.

The first thing that I thought is – what a powerful tool Google will have. They could look at our aggregate search history to see what we are and aren’t clicking on. This could be an excellent way for them to further improve search results.

In addition to that, they should soon be able to offer me better results based on my preferences and search habits. For example, if my search history shows that I don’t click on paid listings, then perhaps over time those will get reduced or even eliminated.

Really, there are many opportunities for advancing search technology through such a tool.

Of course there are going to be those who proclaim that this is yet another invasion of our web privacy. But to those people I say: don”t sign up! You don’t have to use search history if you don’t want to.

Although we did find one concerning thing. That is, if you use your Gmail account as your search history login it sets a cookie that is then used to log you into Gmail. That means you can close your browser and open it and still get into your Gmail inbox without logging in. This could pose a security threat if you leave your computer unattended, or don’t clear your cookies on a regular basis.

Other than that I must say I’m kinda glad to see this service. I know Microsoft Labs have been working on ”Stuff I’ve Seen” which this is similar to in that it’s keeping track of what you’ve seen online. The Google service only tracks what you’ve searched for and clicked on. It doesn’t go any further than that.

In other words, if you click on a search result, and then navigate through the site to another site it doesn’t follow that traffic, only the search and the link you clicked on.

I would hope that in the near future Google expands this service to include all its web properties and not just search because even when it comes to news there are items I read at Google News that I”d like to go back and refer to.

Overall though, I do like the new service and do look forward to what it could do for me. Being in this job I view hundreds of sites per day through searches, so being able to go back to them at any point will be a great time saver.