Google Personalized Results – Ego Search Conundrum

I frequently use Google to search for results on my own site, so you would expect that when using Google Personalized Search, pages on my own domain would rank higher for very obvious specific search results.
You would be wrong…

The Most Personal Searches

Whilst I was tempted to demonstrate this with a specific piece of content, there are too many other known or unknown factors involved.

In the end the best demonstration of this strange phenomena, some might look on it as a bug, was perhaps the most personal of all searches, and ego search.

Ego Search For Andy

Lots of bloggers know that Matt Mullenweg (WordPress) outranks Matt Harding (the Dancer) & Matt Cutts (Google) for a search for Matt.

That order has changed fairly recently, because Matt the Dancer is topical

Unfortunately for me, even Andy which is an abbreviated form of Andrew has almost as many results in Google as Matt, and of course there is also a WordPress developer called Andy Skelton.

Then of course there are all the “notable” Andy’s who have a Wikipedia page dedicated to them.

I also read a lot of blogs written by people called Andy, and I have visited a few other sites from searching for Andy in the past.

Personalized Search Results For Andy

Personal Search For Andy

Google now state in the search results window that you are looking at Personalized Search Results. I haven’t seen anyone mention this, but I haven’t been reading quite as many feeds for the last few weeks as normal.

16th for a personalized search for Andy – – I don’t mind being listed slightly further down the page than my very notable colleagues, at least for now.

Then I noticed the text about this being a personalized result, and thought it would be a good idea to test this without personalized results switched on.

Normal Search Results For Andy

This could be datacenter related – I am gaining in ranking for ego searches at a reasonable rate, and personalized search could use a newer or older dataset compared to the main index.

Google Search Results for Andy

I believe since I first started using personalized search I have clicked through on more search results containing the word “andy” to my own site than I have clicked through to Andy Beal or Andy Hagans.
I also spend a lot more time on my own site, and click through on general results to my own site more than I have to Andy Beal or Andy Hagans.

Why do I rank higher for “Andy” in the non-personalized results? (13th place)

p.s. I noted that Andy Skelton for some reason now has both his blogs set to noindex nofollow though it is still showing in the main Google index, but not the personal results. Matt Harding’s blog on typepad is also showing noindex, nofollow

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  1. says

    Hey Andy,

    Interesting article. The only usage I’ve made of personalized search was to try and figure out if there was any logic behind it. There isn’t much as of yet…

    Perhaps Google recognizes you own the domain and therefore gives it less importance since you would already be aware of its content…

    In my personalized search, you rank 15th, behind WP Matt but above the other notables. Before you are also a bunch of sites I have never visited or heard of before.

    Interesting experiment, thanks.

  2. says


    I also tested this from the domain. From I.E. (non personalised) you came up around 16. On my personalised search the first reference I could find was at #211. I *might* have missed it, but I rechecked the first 100 results and you weren’t there. I’ve never done a search for “Andy” before, but am certainly a frequent visitor to this site, more so than any other Andy, that’s for sure. It’s extremely peculiar.

  3. says

    Here’s more mystery data to ponder:

    Searching in California off of a wireless GSM network (AT&T/Cingular), you were result #20 with personalized search and #7 (yes, SEVEN!) when I logged out altogether.

    Now I’m off to do the same with my own ego searches…

  4. says

    My claim to fame is that if you search for swollen pickles in google then my blog is at the top (or it was when i wrote this). I’ve actually started an experiment targeting random words with a link exchange type thing. It’s for the sort of person that wants to rank number one on google for the term ‘inferiority’.

  5. says

    Nice post Andy!
    I have also done this search before – surprising how common the name Andy is becoming.

    I was known as Andrew throughout high school but changed to the shorter form for two reasons: a) it’s more casual and sounds better, and b) there were too many Andrews

    But now every second movie or TV show has a character named Andy and I rarely hear the name Andrew these days!

  6. says

    I believe they are working very hard to get this right. As soon as they do, you can believe the next thing they release will be Personalized PPC results. This will likely help Google profit by zeroing-in on people who already prefer “Brand X” with an ad thus increasing the click-through rate. If you clicked the ad before, why not improve the position to help increase the chance of you clicking it again? It might already be happening as part of the new quality score, I haven’t tested it but I’m keeping an eye on it.

  7. says

    A most interesting read. I’m very tempted to optimise my personal pages so I can rank highly for Mathew (yes, with the one ‘T’), though it would ultimately be a pointless exercise in vanity. Imagine the futility of such an effort if your name happened to be Apple…

  8. says

    It looks like the Personalized PPC results story just broke.

    Search for:weather forecast
    Then search for: Hawaii Vacation
    Then search again for: weather forecast

    See any difference when you repeat the first query?


  1. […] Andy Beard performed an ego search #16 on a personal search for and #13 on a general search. Naturally, I had to do an ego search. I knew my competition was tough: There is that island. There is also St. Lucia, the candle-topped-patron Saint of Sweden. Both are obviously strong contenders for the #1 result for Lucia in Google. For all I knew, there might actually be someone famous named Lucia. […]