How to Get Google to Show Un-Personalised Results

Here’s a really simple trick that a lot of people don’t know.

Did you realise that the results you see in Google are most likely different to the results someone else sees?

Even if they’re putting in the same URL, even if they’re in the same country, city, or office as you!

If you’re looking at the Google search results, to see where your own pages are ranking, or to look at your competitors, you are most likely seeing personalised results.

The search engines are doing everything they can to show the best results. Now that general sorting algorithms are getting very good across the board, the next big area is personalisation.

So Google will rearrange the results for each person, based on all kinds of criteria it knows about you: what it thinks you like, where you are in the world, maybe even what your friends like.

How does Google know what you like? Well, in theory, if you use Chrome, it knows what you’re looking at. If you use GMail, it knows what your emails are about. And if you’re on Google Plus, it knows what you’ve plus-oned.

GMail users, just look at the advertisements GMail shows you. Notice how they’re related to what’s in your inbox?

Here’s what Google says.

Google helps you find personal results that are relevant to you. With a single Google search, you can see regular search results, along with all sorts of results that are tailored to you — pages shared with you by your friends, Google+ posts from people you know, and content that’s only visible to you (like private photos from Google+ new window and Picasa new window albums). Personal results are part of Search plus Your World new window, Google’s search experience that blends personal results with universal results, and helps you connect with people you care about.

http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1710607

Big brother? No, I don’t think so… if it’s done only for your benefit.

But if you’re doing something SEO-related, you don’t want personalised results, you want to see the generic results.

How to Switch Off Personal Web Search

It’s simple. Just add &pws=0 to the end of the URL in any Google search results. See this example.

Turning off personal web search in Google

Turning off personal web search in Google

It tells Google, “Personal Web Search = OFF”, and you’ll see the same as… well, almost nobody who’s signed in to Google. But it will be the stripped-down, back-to-basics results.

Here’s a comprehensive list of ALL the parameters you can use with Google.

9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. ( jason ) says:

    If you’re signed in to Google, you don’t need to tweak the URL to accomplish this. Google provides a button at the top right to “Hide personal results”.

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Thanks Jason. Unfortunately, that button is not available on all versions of Google. I see it when I use Google.com today, but not on Google.co.uk.

  2. Niall says:

    Thanks a lot for the tip. I was wondering how to turn it off; before you could just choose the option below the search bar.

  3. Isabelle says:

    I think Ben is right: if I log into google.com it takes me straight to google.co.za and I cannot see such button.
    But thank you so much for a great tip!

  4. David Fleck says:

    Thank you for the tip. That is good information.

  5. Megan Bennett says:

    Thanks for the heads up here Ben. More tips at http://www.seomoz.org/blog/face-off-4-ways-to-de-personalize-google

  6. Robin says:

    It would be great if you could just switch it off in “settings”.

  7. Mervin Minnies says:

    Thank you Ben that is really great information!!

  8. Clean Web Design says:

    Here is code for a bookmarklet that can give you 1-click depersonalization on Google searches.

    To install it, bookmark this web page, then right click on the button that is created. Click “Properties”, then paste the string below into the Location/URL field. Rename the book to Depersonalize Google or whatever you like.

    javascript:location.href=location.href+’&pws=0′;