Do search engines collect a history of searches?

Search history, provided by a search engine and produced by the searcher, has become a well-used feature that is easy to store because it does not use a lot of memory (Leung et al 2012:3065); however, this memory is used to personalise the searcher’s services (Anonymous 2005:8). Google, Bing and Yahoo! all collect search histories alongside paid services.

Logo of Google's personalised search?

Logo of Google’s Personalised Search feature

A Google user, theoretically, has control over their search history because they may delete it from their user account. But search history may be stored by other technologies, for instance, cookies.

Does Google personalise searches?

In short, yes! Fox (2007:24) identified what technologies are used with Google’s personalised search; they include:

  • Previous click behaviour
  • Location
  • Search history
  • Web history
  • Use of other Google services
  • Language
  • Country restriction

All Google users, from 2009, automatically opt-in to Google’s Personalised Search allowing a users’ web history to be monitored (Horling and Kulick 2009: online).

So it is clear that there are several technologies which might influence one single search.


  1. Fox, V. (2007) ‘The anatomy of personalized Google results. Information Today. 24(11) pp. 24 — 24
  2. Horling, B. and Kulick, M. (2009) Personalized search for everyone. [Online] [Accessed on 11th Feb 2013]
  3. Leung, S.W. Yuen, S.Y. and Chow, C.K. (2012) ‘Parameter control system of evolutionary algorithm that is aided by the entire search history.’ Applied Soft Computing. 12(9) pp. 3063 — 3078

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