Googlewebhistory1Google has quietly made a big change to their search history feature.  It’s now been renamed to “Web History,” a revamped personalized search.  The biggest difference is that it keeps a history of every site you’ve gone to, not just the Google Searches you’ve done.

So not only can you view your web activity, but you can search the full-text of every page you’ve visited including the images and videos. For example, if you wanted to re-visit a site that gave a review for a camera you were looking for and you couldn’t remember which site it was, you’d just have to search for the name of the camera or any other word that was on the page and Google would return the result.

One of the benefits of this is that your search results will be more personalized because they’ll be based upon your Web History and what interests you– which can only be a good thing.  You can also view the trends for all of your web activity versus just your Google searches, as was the case previously.

What does Google gain from this? Well, what don’t they? Be enabling this service, Google has more information on you than anyone! They know every site that you visit, when, and how often.


Privacy Issues

One of the first things that came to my mind with this change is privacy issues.  This means that your Google login is catching up in value to your Social Security number.  Maybe that’s stretching it a bit, but if someone got their hands on your account information, they’d have access to a lot of information. If you have the search enabled for your email, someone could have access to all of the content in your email. If you use Google Analytics, your site statistics would be available, and of course all of the web pages you’ve visited and the searches you’ve done.

However, this is a voluntary thing.  No one is forcing you to do this.  You’d need to enable the web history first, and then install the Google Toolbar to take advantage of it.  They also give you the option of limiting it to just your searches.

If you’re uncomfortable about the thought of Google knowing every little detail about your activities on the Internet, don’t use it.I like to think of it as beefed-up bookmarking.  Google is essentially bookmarking every site you’ve gone to so you can easily go back and find ones that you’d like to revisit.

This also makes their new Queryless Search feature 1000 times more useful.

Thanks for the tip Cory!
Image source: Google Blogoscoped