We usually try to make our online experience as smooth and relevant as possible. Google being the most popular search engine has a lion’s share in shaping this experience for us. To do this, Google gathers information based on our searches and behaviour to tailor search results and ads to our interests. Without Google personalizing our online journey there is a good chance that we end in an ocean of options, not necessarily aligned with our interests and liking.
But did you know you can see (and control) how Google is customising the experience for you?
Google advocates putting the user in control of what they see online and they do this by being transparent about what information they collect from you. You have an option to ‘Ask Google Not to Track’ too, but you might end up with too many irrelevant ads and search results popping in your browser.
Head over to Google Ads Settings to access the personalization options being used by Google. Once on this page, you’ll see an option to turn off personalization altogether.
On the same page you will find a list of labels Google associated with your user profile. This list can be very long, sometimes as long as 300 labels or more per account. You can click on each label and check where Google inferred this information from. These labels are ever changing, they dynamically update with your online behaviour.
Most of this information comes from your activity across Google’s servcies (from Search to Gmail) and some directly from your Google profile. Cookies from the Chrome browser also help Google in gathering this information, if you are logged into your account with the Chrome browser.
You also have the option to control this information: You can turn off, manage, and update your preferences. Some interests can be updated to a different value, some have the option to be turned off completely and other demographic labels like age or language can be managed as lists. You can stay in control of what personalization suits your needs.
It is good to know what Google knows about you. You can finally understand why you see all those unwanted furniture ads or search results. Best part, you can train Google’s algorithms to show you what you prefer more. Use this option to control your online experience and make the best of your screen time.