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How to Disable Personalised Search in Google

Jaamit Durrani

[Update: Since writing this post Google has launched personalisation of results even when you're not signed in. Aside from being a bit of a privacy issue it means the stuff about 'signing out' below is a bit outdated - signing out doesn't guarantee unpersonalised results any more.  However I believe the solution below, of using &pws=0 still works - this is something we are looking to test in the future.  Finally as mentioned in the comments you can also use Yoast's plugins to quickly add depersonalised search boxes to your browser - but the steps below allow more customisation, different countries etc]

There is a terrible plague afflicting website owners and SEO bods alike these days - a variant of RSI known as SignOut-itis.  Anyone who obsessively checks their site's Google rankings will recognise the symptoms:

  1. Googling your primary keyword for the 100th time this week
  2. Letting out a yelp of excitement when you discover you've moved up to Page 1
  3. Cursing loudly as you realise you're still signed in to your Google account and therefore getting personalised results
  4. Having to click on "Sign Out" to find that actually you're still languishing halfway down Page 2
  5. Sighing in resignation as you try to explain your outbursts to your puzzled co-workers

Doh! The dreaded Sign Out link in Google
Doh! The dreaded Sign Out link in Google

For those who don't know, personalised search is a feature in Google that looks at your previous browsing habits to tailor your search results to what it thinks you are looking for.  It's a great feature for most users, but if you're trying to work out how successful your SEO efforts have been in the rankings it can get pretty annoying to have to keep clicking on Sign Out before you can see the unpersonalised results.

Luckily, there is a cure! Just follow the instructions below to get a custom unpersonalised Google search engine installed in your browser.

SignOut-itis cure for Firefox users

  1. Download the Google UK Unpersonalised custom search plugin
  2. Unzip the file  in the following location: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins\ (this may vary if you've installed Firefox in a different location)
  3. Restart Firefox
  4. Click on the little button next to your Firefox search bar in the top right of your screen and choose Google UK Unpersonalised:
  5. manage-search-engines-firefox

  6. Hey presto! Your default search will now show unpersonalised results for Google UK.  No more clicking "Sign Out"!

SignOut-itis cure for Internet Explorer users (IE7)

  1. Click the little arrow next to the search box in the top right of your browser and click on Find More Providers...:ie7-find-more-providers
  2. In the Create Your Own box copy and paste the following URL into the text box in step 3: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=TEST&meta=&rlz=1I7GGLD_enie7-create-your-own-search-provider
  3. Name your new search provider "Google UK Unpersonalised" and click "Install"
  4. Tick the box for Make this my default search provider and click Add Provider:

    ie7-add-search-provider

  5. Bob's your uncle! Your default search in IE is now Google UK Unpersonlised.

And that's it. Hope you found this useful. Please note that these instructions are for google.co.uk searches only - if you want help setting it up for another country let me know in the comments below.



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