Confounding yourself with Google

My boss is a Google addict (Googaholic?). He never keeps references to web pages he’s visited, no bookmarks, favorites, or anything like that. His philosophy seems to be that if you want to find somewhere you’ve been, just ask Google how to get there. This includes his own academic web page. Whenever he wants to go there, he simply puts his last name into Google.

For years his page would come up 6th on Google’s list. A while back it failed to show up at all. Why is his page suddenly demoted out of existence? This was the state of things for several months until recently his page is back at 6th place. It’s already a little strange, but here is where the fun really starts. If I search his name on Google on the computer in my office, he comes up 2nd. If my office mate searches, he comes up 5th. If I search again, but with a different browser, he comes up 6th.

As far as we can tell, Google is giving different results based on what browser you are using, or possibly browser/OS combination. I wonder what deep meaningful reason they have for this, or maybe they just like messing around with us.

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One Response to Confounding yourself with Google

  1. brianbunton says:

    Google keeps a search history for every user and customizes search results based on it. Are different people logged in in these situations? If not, some component of search history could be included in the cookie files, which are different by browser.

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