Portfolio A Belief In Design
And A Love Of Photography

All technology should be assumed guilty until proven innocent?

As a psychology student, the importance of being seen to be ‘scientific’ in our endeavours was regularly stressed and to a point this has affected me ever since. I often get a bit uppity when I hear non-scientific conclusions being reported on Radio Trash News.

I think it is fair to assume that if one searches for something in Google this search will be replicated if one switches browser and searches again using the exact same search string. I think it is also fair to assume that if one has a Google account the search results will be the same whether or not one is logged into that account at the time.

I will state one final assumption, that is that most people would be surprised to find that those first two assumptions are incorrect.

The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

Collect data and ask questions

As part of my own scientific endeavour I collect data and ask questions. I use Google Analytics, WordPress Stats, I have a stats package built into my website hosting and I regularly examine the raw data. I find interesting trends, sometimes I can’t explain the results, sometimes my data sources fail to correlate. By and large though I get an idea of how transparent my websites are and I get an idea about whether or not my Organic Optimisation Techniques are working. I can see fairly easily if people are using my sites but I also need to check to see if people can find them, so I Google myself, regularly. (I would like to point out that I am not alone here, lots of people do this.)

I have previously mentioned that the implications of Googling one’s own name are different for individuals and global brands. People know Starbucks but probably don’t all know Andrew Butler (yet). Further to this Andrew Butler is quite a common name.

So to the results. If I google my own name I currently come third on a ‘whole of world’ search. Whilst nice, this is a little surprising. There are a lot of Andrew Butlers, there is also another one in the South-West who is a well known photographer. The two above me by the way own the .co.uk and .com Andrew Butler domains. Get ready for the fall. If I go through the same procedure in Firefox, which is my backup browser my rankings plummet. A bit of research and I found others experienced the same thing;

Olaf Says:
January 12th, 2010 at 8:42 am
It’s because Google remembers the web pages you visit very often.
Your customer must be happy with his site, so he visits the site very often.
I think you visit the some time before thats why there is only a small difference between the logged and unlogged session.
Actually this function is very disturbing, you need to disable web history here: http://www.google.com/history

So tracing my steps, searching again on the variety of computers and browsers I use I have to say that;

  • If you are logged on to Google you may improve the ranking of a site that you regularly search for
  • If you don’t clear your browsing history you may improve the ranking of a site that you regularly search for
  • Interestingly Yahoo now seems to give results (for me) similar to the favourable (logged on cached history) Google results
  • I now think more favourably of Yahoo whilst recognising my human weaknesses
  • So it would appear that Google does inflate your own ranking if your are logged on or if you visit the site frequently. This then leaves me with one awkward question.

    Why?

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