Does Deleting Your Web History At Google Really Do Anything?

May 29, 2014 • 8:42 am | comments (22) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Delete Google Web History

Jacques Mattheij wrote a blog post named Google Web/Search History Disable Does Absolutely Nothing. Basically claiming that when you hit that delete button, Google just hides it from your Google Web History page but does nothing more.

Of course, this upset Google's Matt Cutts, who said he was wrong.

Matt posted on Hacker News:

Just a quick point. The article says "there is no guarantee whatsoever that google does anything except for changing what they display to you."

If you're on the page at and click on the gear and then "Help" the page about deleting search history is at and it says

"What happens to your history when it's deleted

When you delete items from your Web History, they are no longer associated with your Google Account. However, Google may store searches in a separate logs system to prevent spam and abuse and to improve our services."

The article claims that there's no guarantee that Google does anything other than change the display. Google actually does quite a bit of work to disassociate items from your Google account if/when you delete them.

He then explains why Google does keep the search results for 18 months, for spam reasons. Matt said, "an easy example of preventing spam would be to detect and stop people trying to spam Google Suggest, which is based on queries that users do."

I am sure many of you will enjoy that last quote, because clearly there is a lot of Google Suggest spam attempts that Google watches over.

Either way, technically, there are likely ways to associate your searches back to you even if you delete them. Like in the AOL example from 2006. But Google does do things to disassociate the queries to your Google account.

Forum discussion at Hacker News.

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D Alan Redd

05/29/2014 01:48 pm

With the keyword here being "Disassociate" ... So in a nutshell .. Does Google "Delete" your history? .. um .. "No" ... Remember kids .. as long as you are considered by Google to be the "Product" and your info is looked upon as something to be sold, your history will remain .. always.

the alive network

05/29/2014 01:53 pm

Sorry I thought Matt was the head of the spam team; he seems to weigh in on everything as if he runs the entire show? I think Matt should be classed as googles in house PR man, nothing more! Sorry but the dude spends too much time tweeting and commenting online to be hands on in anything programming wise, is anyone else spent this much time on social networks they would be fired! Matt appears to be the mouth of google, nothing more!

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 02:02 pm

Matt is a public spokesperson for Google and many people look to him to clarify doubts about Google's activity. He has often checked with other teams when he wasn't sure of what Google is doing. He also posts under his real name without fear.

the alive network

05/29/2014 02:25 pm

So he is the PR guy? Or the head of the spam team? Or both?

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 02:30 pm

He's a guy who speaks publicly on behalf of Google under his real name.

the alive network

05/29/2014 02:42 pm

If he is paid to speak for Google under his real name, its unlikely he would use a fake name Michael!

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 02:55 pm

He has more credibility than people who don't use their real names to comment on marketing blogs and forums.

the alive network

05/29/2014 03:13 pm

I agree he has more credibility than people who value privacy and don’t post under their real names. He also has more credibility than people who post under their own names in order to market their marketing services.

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 03:40 pm

"He also has more credibility than people who post under their own names in order to market their marketing services." And he has more credibility than people who toss out red herrings to deflect people's attention away from their trolling.

Yo Mamma

05/29/2014 03:45 pm

"without fear" Without fear? What does Matt Cutts have to fear? Destroying ranking of millions of small businesses wouldn't make anyone mad enough to cause anyone harm, let alone Cutts, so what are you suggesting he fears?

Yo Mamma

05/29/2014 03:46 pm

This is merely your interpretation of his role. He could been in bed with Serge and Larry having a 3-some and be paid for it

The alive network

05/29/2014 03:53 pm

Did I touch a nerve? He also has more credibility than those who fall for feed the troll ;) Sell ur marketing somewhere else Martinez, we're all stocked up here!


05/29/2014 04:17 pm

wow, 18 months and people thought if you hit delete, it'd be gone. Nice revelation, I'm sure not many people know about this.


05/29/2014 04:26 pm

I know for a fact that stuff we did under a gmail... stays associated with our accounts, I used to make blogspot blogs to test an idea prior to investing time and effort into a full blown wordpress site... I deleted them a long time ago, when I view that gmail's history, I'm still listed as the owner of those (now defunct) blogs. That's why I totally avoid using a gmail, there are options to having a google account (so you can also turn that email into a Google+) that use your existing email and there's Google Apps as well.


05/29/2014 07:28 pm

Yeah, it's not associated with your account, just your name, gender, birthdate, address, interests, etc. Just not your account.

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 08:32 pm

I think a more interesting question is why does someone who chooses to hide behind a pseudonym of "Yo Mamma" feel like their criticisms of anyone else should be taken seriously.

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 08:33 pm

"Did I touch a nerve?" What you do in your private time is your own business.


05/29/2014 09:37 pm

We all know that everything is saved on redundant backups at both DHS and NSA headquarters. Don't worry... your data is safe from ever being lost or forgotten. Thanks Google! :)


05/29/2014 09:40 pm

Matt Cutts isn't real... he is just a character SNL made up for the best internet hoax ever.

Yo Mamma

05/29/2014 10:18 pm

Michael Martinez IMO, you're not cool and you're not even funny. You're a lonely guy holding up your head from falling off its shoulders. There is no price on coolness But I do take note of what you said about Matt Cutt's fear. Forever being aware of ones 6 after pissing millions of slightly deranged individuals off is advisable. And I will pray for Matt that he is not a victim of those selfish SOB's that should have just followed the rules that were never enforced until they were enforced when they destroyed the websites.

Michael Martinez

05/29/2014 11:28 pm

"Michael Martinez IMO, you're not cool and you're not even funny." And as I noted above, it's just not possible to take your opinions seriously. Thank you for playing in today's game of "How to Lose Internet Credibility Through Use of Pseudonyms".

the alive network

05/30/2014 09:46 am

You're a lonely guy

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