Competitive intelligence and information professionals are well aware that Google searches come with an increasingly large amount of gunk. Not only that, but Google's agenda to make social a focus, and to personalize search results, has made it more difficult to believe in the objectivity of its results. It may have been an illusion that Google returned the 'correct' answer to a search, but it was an illusion I was happy to buy. No longer.
I finally cracked, and made a couple of quick changes to my search setup, that roll back some of the Google Plus Wave Buzz Local Social Blah Blah mania:
- Block Google cookies. On Chrome, my browser, this is under Options/Under the bonnet/Content settings/Cookies/Manage exceptions...then a hostname pattern of [*.]google.com - and Block. Repeat for any other Google domains you use. Now, I will remain logged out of Google, giving my searches a slightly higher level of independence.
- Replace Google with startingpage.com as my homepage and 'new tab' page (the latter by using the New Tab Redirect extension for Chrome). There are other search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Blekko, but every time I try to use those, I break out in a cold sweat with paranoia that perhaps the Great G has some results I should know about. I came across Startingpage somewhere and it seems a good enough Google clone.
- Create a search shortcut for Startingpage. On Chrome, this is under Options/Basics/Search/Manage search engines ... I have made "https://eu.startingpage.com/do/search?q=%s" my default, and also tagged it as a one-letter search shortcut.
The above is not perfect. I may find out that Startingpage differs from Google in some important way. Google may force them to close down (I will just switch to another clone). I will from time to time need to log on to Google Plus or other Google services, for which I will use some other browser (for some people this won't be practicable as their ecosystem may rely more on Google/Gmail). But I am looking forward to a trial period of cleaner Google results.