Personalization plays a very important role in Google search. Whatever you search for in Google, your search results are almost always personalized. Google filters results based on your IP address, your location, browsing history, search history, cookies and what not. To make it further clear, if you make a search from Canada, your search results will be different from results gained when searching in Pakistan.
This can be a problem for SEOs especially, because it’s possible that at client’s side, he may see his result not even on 2nd page whereas on hired SEO may see same result on 1st page’s 1st result. Yeah, that happens. Vice versa of same happens, when client literally bursts in happiness and endorses the SEO and hired SEO is dumbstruck!
So.. Google displaying you personalized results may be both good as well as bad. Good? How? Well, when you search for “pizza” in Seattle, Google will know your location and therefore display you with restaurants serving pizza in Seattle. Bad? How?
#1 Get OUT of Google
This is the official Google way. They provide you with a few tips to de-personalize your browsing experience. Here’s what Google suggests:
- Sign out of Google. Drag your cursor over your account avatar to top-right, click it and click “Sign out“. I’m afraid this method of signing out won’t be effective for some good time, because they’re always changing the interface. This one’s obvious, because most of your personal details are stored in Google account like your search history, browsing history (it’s offline too!) and your Google+ friends, etc.
- Officially then you need to clear your browsing history as well as cookies saved. Of course, this official method is not 100% foolproof and they admit this themselves on the page when they these are “some tips”.
Signing out will de-personalize most of your search results, but your IP address is logged to find out your location and display your localized results. Still results from Google+ and your search history will be turned off, kinda.
#2 Official toggle to “private results”
Since the inception of Google+, there has been a many ways the company tries to integrate its social network into its search engine. Like there was a time when it started displaying personalized results or results from user’s circles’ posts. Like if I search for “pizza hut”, the search engine will show relevant results as well as posts of people I follow in Google Plus, which possess the query.
As you might have guessed, many people objected and criticised company’s attempts to filter their results based upon their network of followers/following. That’s when the toggle came. It is a little toggle/switch display to the right of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Icon to right-side is a world-type, clicking it will de-Google+-personalize results. Whereas icon to left is a human shape, toggling to this mode will display personalized search results.
#3 Install Yoast plugins
Yoast is one of the respected WordPress-centric companies. It’s hugely popular for its WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO (WordPress SEO, formerly). Yoast has many other WordPress plugins and serve the community with its many other services like WordPress themes, review service and what not.
When it comes to search personalization, Yoast has a few plugins. These plugins/extensions can be installed in Chrome, Firefox, etc. Upon installing, they make an unpersonalized version of Google as default. So by default, whatever you search in omnibox or in Firefox’s default search engine, results are de-personalized. Cool, right?
Go to this page and install the localized version Google you like.
#4 Switch to Incognito mode
Incognito mode is the private browsing mode of Google Chrome. In Firefox, it is called Private mode. Incognito mode is special browsing mode in that whatever tabs you open in incognito mode, cookies store or search history is not stored in browsing history. Though any files you download your pages you bookmark are downloaded & bookmarked like normally.
Incognito mode is completely new session of Chrome, which is why none of the cookies saved in normal Chrome mode are utilized there. So it helps you stay safe from personalization curse.
Truth is that no matter how much you try, you cannot hide yourself from Google. Not unless you use TOR browser to surf the web, which gives you 100% anonymity and pure browsing experience. One way or the other Google will display pages from your “local”. However you can always extend what Google considers as your “local”. If the giant search company only allowed “local” to be set to “earth” 😛