How to minimise personalised result skewing in search engines?

Quite often I see comments on this SE network in the form of:

Given that this question is now the top Google hit…

But sometimes that was a statement I couldn’t confirm to be true.

Recently I saw the exact thing happening to me:

Googled a phrase, found an SE post at the top spot, told someone via phone about and they denied it to be true.

So I launched another browser to check whether it was a case of cookie bubble and indeed that SE post was now on page 4 of results. On the same network, same computer, same session.

Since I quite regularly clean out all cookies on my main browser and discard them on quit in all others:

What exactly is it that distorts the Google results in SE’s favour? Searching for answers via that search engine itself might indicate that I do not know the correct terms for this problems to yield something useful in the hits. But I suspect that it might be along the lines of SE-cookies, SE sharing data with Google, Google-cookies/search history, something else?

Naturally, this is a “service” that I do not want, for many reasons. Increased privacy, more unbiased search results etc. The SE-story is mainly just an example that users here might replicate easily.

So, how can that automatic, personalised result skewing be avoided, while still using Google?

Do non-existent ‘category’ pages present a problem for search engines?

Say for example if I have a news site and my url structure is

If there is no page at in other words it’s a 404, is that problematic from an SEO perspective or problematic for the search engine crawlers?

The reason I ask is that the homepage is the actual “news” landing page so I was thinking of using a permanent redirect to the homepage if the nonexistent page is a problem.

But I also want to preserve the possibility of eventually moving the “news” landing page to Would a permanent redirect mean that would become impossible from the perspective of being indexable in the future?

Are there hostel search engines with which you can search for family rooms in Japan?

I’ve worked in several backpacker hostels in a couple of countries and stayed in many in many countries. Many, perhaps most, offer twin, double, and even family rooms, as well as dormitories.

But I always travel alone or with one friend and I do stay in dorms. I’ve never had to search online for a family room. Now a friend is asking about family rooms in hostels in Japan.

Many accommodation search engines cover hostels but they usually have one of two problems:

  1. They mainly focus on hotels and mix the hostels in with the hotels, and mainly focus on double rooms. Finding dorm prices is hard with these sites. I’m not yet sure how they are at family rooms in hostels. Examples: and Agoda
  2. They mainly focus on young people staying in dorms or double rooms and don’t make it easy or possible to search for family rooms. Examples: and

There are also sites for specific chains of hostels such as YHA and HI, but they only allow you to check for the few hostels in any locale that are part of the chain, though they do have proper support for looking up family rooms.

So my question is, is there any such site, or any such method, that would work for finding hostels with family rooms in Japan that you know of?

(In case you’re wondering why, hostels can be considerably cheaper than hotels and are usually also more social.)

Query Logs and evaluation of search engines

I’m taking a course about Information Retrieval and we had a quiz involving the evaluation of search engines.

We had a problematic question regarding “Query Logs” (basically recording the queries that users searched in the past and their response for the queries e.g links clicked), and I hope you can help me figure out the answer:

Using query logs can improve the retrieval efficiency of the search engine by:

  • A. Learning common typos in queries
  • B. Learning the connection between pages the users clicked as the result of different queries
  • C. Saving popular queries in a cache
  • D. A + B + C
  • E. A + B + C doesn’t affect the efficiency of retrieval
  • F. The Collection of query logs can’t affect the efficiency of retrieval

I circled option D (A+B+C) and I was wrong.

My Lecturer refuses to reveal the correct answer – I can appeal about her decision but I want to be certain I’m correct.

The explanation for my answer: the question talked about improving the retrieval efficiency, and to the best of my knowledge retrieval efficiency is the time measured from when the user clicked “Search” until the user received the results back.

Therefore, I think A is correct because if we learn common typing mistakes in queries we can create a dictionary of those common errors and create spell correction algorithms. For example if many users typed “bast” instead of “best”, we can use a data structure similar to a cache. (However, this might require an enormous amount of memory, but the question didn’t mention memory efficiency)

I think C is correct because we can save the results of the popular queries in a cache instead of using the (fairly slow) posting file.

B is the only option that I’m not sure why is correct, but I assumed that if A and C are correct, B can be correct.

Could you please tell me what you think about the question and my answers?

Thank you!

Submit your website for free to hundreds of search engines – updated link

Awhile back we wrote a blog post that drove thousands of people to the website each month that gave them a list of hundreds of smaller search engines that you can manually submit your website to. We have updated the post and added it to our new website blog which you can find here if you are interested:

Was it necessary to submit website to all search engines once a month

I do receive some emails from SEO companies where they are mentioning some important to-do tasks in monthly SEO campaign for a blog or website.
In that, automated monthly submission to 100+ search engines.

What is this so called? Is it necessary? Does all SEO companies do follow this practice?
Requesting your answer to make a decision.