SEO Inc. Blog

How Google Classifies You

Google AdWords has a very useful targeting feature for delivering ads to users within its display network called interest categories. Interest categories are buckets of users who have been classified as interested in a category based on their browsing behavior. There are over a thousand of these categories and some 500 million users classified. If you browse the Web, you’ve been classified.

From an advertiser perspective interest categories are awesome. We use them here at SEO Services to deliver outstanding results both for client branding and direct response initiatives. We like interest categories because they expand the targeted audience available to an advertiser and provide a layer of control when combined with other display targeting options such as contextual or re-marketing.

On the other side of the coin are the internet users who are being classified. Their perspective is not always so rosy because for some it seems like a violation of privacy. Personally I think that behavioral targeting is a great thing. I want to be shown ads that are highly relevant to my interests. I don’t want to see ads for senior living or baby toys – I want to see ads for solutions to my particular wants and needs. If an advertiser can figure out what I need based on my browsing history they have saved me time and made my life more efficient.

Like them or not you’ve probably been classified. Here’s how to view, edit, remove and even opt out of interest category ads. Navigate to the following URL Under the “Your Categories” section select “remove or edit” which should bring you to a page that contains table like this:


It’s definitely an interesting experience see the categories that Google has matched to your browsing history for the first time. My demographics are spot on and I’ve been browsing eCard sites for a client which explains that category.

If you’re like me you’d rather not see ads for Cards & Greetings, but marketing and search engine solutions would be useful. First click “remove” on any existing categories you don’t like, then add your preferences:


Google’s transparency and user enabled controls for interest categories are impressive, but there’s much more to the Web than Google. If you’d like to know more about how you’re being tracked online beyond Google try downloading Collusion, a Firefox add-on that allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking you across the Web.

How have you been tracked and categorized and what is your opinion of behavioral targeted advertisements? If you have an interesting experience as a user or advertiser lets continue the conversation in the comments.


About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee,, Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.