Even though I am logged out of Google personalized search, my search results on my laptop are different from those on my desktop computer. I want the ability to see results that the vast majority of users are seeing regardless of location. Google personalized search is definitely the future of search but it can be a problem to get results from a typical user compared to you. Personalized search is done via a combination of factors including web history, geographic location, and browser preference (if you are logged in or out of Google accounts such as Gmail). While personalized search is meant to be a good feature, it is not useful when you need to gauge what others are seeing (like SEOs do).
It’s hard to believe but personalized search first appeared on Google 5 years ago! And that was only for users who were signed into Google accounts. However in December 2009, Google announced that personalized search would now be used for all users, signed in or not. It does this by placing a special cookie on your computer and creates results based on the last 180 days of search. If you want to see how Google has customized your searches, you can click on the Web History link on the top right of the search engine results page (this link only appears if the Web History service is enabled in your Google Account Settings).
To delete the web history, Google provides the following steps:
1. Click on the Search Settings link from the Google home page.
2. Select Google Account Settings from the dropdown menu.
3. Click Edit next to ‘My products.’
4. Click Delete Web History. Make sure you’re signed in to your Google Account to see the My Account link.
If you want to reverse this and enable web history, you can do this by visiting Try Something New section located on the Google Products page within your personal Google account.
There are other ways to disable personalized search besides the above steps:
1. Erase your search cookies – The simplest way to get non-personalized search results is to clear your cookies in your browser and run the search again. This is not ideal if you have the browser save login names to important sites (banking).
2. Adjust Google’s Tracking Cookie – If you’re signed out of your Google account, you can disable history based customizations by clicking on the “Web History” link in the top right corner of the search engine results page. Then click “Disable Customizations”. This will disable the cookie from tracking your Web history.
3. Add &pws=0 to your Search String – This was first reported in 2007 and still works for most people. After you’ve entered your search term and arrived on your search results page add “&pws=0” to the end of the url.
For example, if the search result url is:
It would be:
4. RedFly Global Search Extension – Firefox browser plugin that allow you to see what search engine results look like from any geographic location. You can view paid and organic search results from any country, city, region or specific US zip code.
5. Firefox Private Browsing – Start the mode by opening Tools in the menu bar and selecting the Private Browsing option. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+P to toggle the mode off and on. The title bar of the window will be appended by (Private Browsing) if the mode is on.
6. Google Chrome Incognito – similar to Firefox private browsing. Press “Ctrl+Shift+N” in order to browse anonymously. You can also go to the tool icon in the menu bar and open a new tab in Incognito mode. You can tell that the mode is activated by a spy with dark glasses and a trench coat in the top left corner of the browser.
7. Internet Explorer 8 InPrivate – Click on the “Safety” tab in the menu bar to activate InPrivate Browsing. You can also activate the mode by clicking “Ctrl+Shift+P.” You can tell if you’re in InPrivate mode if the address bar begins with an InPrivate favicon.
8. Yoast Disable Personalization Plug-in – IE8 and Firefox browser plugin. Install by clicking on the buttons on this page that relate to your situation. Options include installing for google.com, installing for google.com with results from the last 24 hours and installing for google.com with results from the last week
9. Browse Using A Proxy Server – Proxy servers allow you to surf the Internet anonymously. When using a proxy server, your ip address and personal information is kept from Google which leads to non-personalized search. Do search on Google for “proxy servers”.
There is another added benefit to using non-personalized search besides getting better search results for SEOs analysis and that is protecting your privacy from Google.