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Opt Out Of “Personalized” Search – 7 Ways

I don’t know about you, but when I search for something on the web I really don’t want my searched ‘personalized.’ I mean if I search on “freelance writing” I don’t want to see just my site and the few I regularly search on – I want wide open results so I can discover new things. The same thing is true for anything else I search for – I don’t want them tailored to me. So I asked Ali Abbas who blogs at Writers Blog to show us all how to opt out. Here’s what he wrote:

So, how Google managed to snatch the Lion’s Share of search engine traffic?

Simply, by doing what you and me wanted them to do: provide the most relevant results in the shortest time.

As our desires and expectations kept growing, Google kept updating their algorithm.

Most updates were barely discernible, but then came Personalized Search in 2009 – arguably the biggest transformation so far. Its impact wasn’t too obvious until January 2012 when Search plus Your World was launched.

In addition to other factors that impact webpages’ ranking, personalized search introduced a new factor: your social associations (especially on Google+). The content uploaded or shared by your acquaintances has now a higher probability of appearing on the first pages.

Why turn off personal results?

Personalized search offers several benefits, but you might want to turn it off:

  • Because you hate personalization (just like me)
  • To check the actual position of a page
  • To view a different set of pages for a certain query

Turning off the personalized search

Use any of the following methods to deactivate this feature for a particular query, for one session or for good:

For one query

Let’s pretend you’re searching for “Freelance Writing.” Type it in the search bar and hit enter. When results appear, add psw0 at the end of the URL string and hit enter – it will drop all the personal results.

turn off personalization with psw0






Toggle personalized search on/off – one click

Adding psw0 is probably the fasted, but it only works for the current active session. To turn personalization off permanently,  sign into your Google account and click the globe icon in the top-right corner. To revert back, click the person icon.




Use Proxy sites

Browse using the proxy sites, and you won’t see personal results. hidemyass.com, iphider.org, cloudvpn.biz are a few to name.

Google’s recommended method

Google recommends this method, but it’s account-specific i.e. you won’t see personalized results as long as you’re singed in. If you sign out, you may still see personal results.

  1. Open Google search preferences
  2. Scroll down to Personal results
  3. Click Do not use personal results











Switch to private browsing temporarily 

This is the best approach if you want to use depersonalized search for a short while.

For Chrome, hit the wrench icon –  – in top-right corner and choose New incognito window or press Ctrl+Shift+N.

For Internet Explorer  you can switch to In Private browsing from the Safety menu, by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P, or from the New Tab page.

In Firefox press Ctrl+Shift+P or click the main dropdown menu and choose Start Private Browsing.

Firefox also allows you to permanently enable private browsing.

Depersonalize permanently

In Firefox, click  the Firefox drop down menu –  –  and choose Start Private Browsing. Firefox also allows you to permanently enable private browsing.

In Chrome, here’s the best approach to disable personalized search:

  1. Click the wrench icon
  2. Hit Settings
  3. Click Manage search engines
  4. Enter the following details at the bottom and click OkName: Google Depersonalized (or whatever you like)
    Keyword: google.com
    Url:  http://www.google.com/search?q=%s&pws=0

Make it your default search engine

For IE and Firefox

Joost de Valk (Yoast) has created several add-ons for FireFox and Internet Explorer to shun personal results. Click here to go to the plugins page and choose the appropriate version.

Another, probably better, option for FireFox users is Google Global. Install it, go to Options, choose De-personalize Google search results and click Ok.

Have any questions or suggestion? Let’s discuss them in comments!

Ali Abbas is a freelance writer and blogger. On his blog, he talks about (even some Taboo stuff on) how you can get started and make Big Bucks as a freelance writer. Click here to Get In.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • And I don’t want personalization when I’m checking on prices, politics or almost anything else, come to think of it.

  • Ali

    Lisa, there can be occasions when you do actually want a rather personalized search: say you want to see the latest Xmas photos posted by your friends/family, or recommendations to visit a new place from folks you personally know… but when searching for your ‘professional needs,’ you’d mostly want a de-personalized search.
    Ali recently posted..How My Blog Jumped From PR0 To PR3 IN JUST 7 Months (Infographic)My Profile

  • Lisa Nicholas

    Thanks for a very helpful post. When I want to check how my web sites are performing in various search engines, I definitely do not want results that are tailored to my tastes. These tips on how to do a “de-personalized” search are going to be a big help.

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