When you type a phrase into a Google Search Bar, the results generated and delivered to you are personalized based on your Google Account (if you are logged in) or your IP address. Google keeps track of your previous searches by default if you are logged in, and it will use your search habits and apparent preferences to customize and bias the results it delivers to you. If you are not logged in, Google will attempt to personalize your search based on demographic statistics or other factors based on the physical location you are in when you search. It uses your IP address to help guesstimate categories to put you into for shaping the search results.
Personalized Search is a Game Changing Event for SEO’s
In the past, SEO’s demonstrated their effectiveness by giving ranking reports to their clients. Ranking Reports were one of several clear indicators that clients could use to determine if their SEO Firm was effective. Of course the end goal of SEO is to get more sales and more business for their client, but showing them that they were # 1 on Google for their key phrase was a great proof that their salary was justified. I handed out over 250 Google # 1 rankings in July of 2009 to my clients as well as over 1,000 Google Top 10 rankings. Now, a search done by an attorney in Miami will have a different result as the same search done by an SEO in New York. I’ve had to spend a lot of time teaching my clients how to handle these changes. Some clients only care about the rankings and I can tell you it’s a little difficult to change a mindset after clients have been accustomed for years to look at ranking reports.
Is Personalized Search Good?
My opinion is that it’s good for non-technical searchers because it helps them to get the relevant results they are looking for … most of the time… based on probability and statistics. For an SEO like me, I want to know what Google thinks without getting biased results from their index. And really I want to see the actual search frequency for each term I’m interested in and I’d like to see what was delivered not just to me but to everyone. SO it is good for search? Yes for some and no to others. There is no right or wrong answer to that question yet.
How Can I De-Personalize Search?
After you search for a phrase and you get to the SERP (search engine results page), take a look at your address bar on top of the browser.
To De-Personalize that search add to the end of the string that’s already in the address bar: &pws=0
(that’s a zero at the end)
This is the same search with the de-personalize string added to it. Notice the results are different. webdesignworkplace.com is listed #16 for that phrase and it was listed #17.
Do I have to Keep Typing That De-Personalize String?
In manual mode with you and your browser, the short answer is Yes. To get a de-personalized search you have to add that string to remove filters and bias. But there may be a better way. Yoast has just released a new plugin that works with IE and FF. Just search for:
I’m going to try this later because if I had 10 cents for every time I had to de-personalize a search in the last 4 months I could take my kids to Disneyland.
(I have not been paid by anyone mentioned in this blog post – Cheers – Mal Milligan)