Often when people go to check their web rankings they fear that their searches are personalized.

What is personalized search?

Pioneered by Google in 2004, search engines “personalize” your search results. Pages you have previously visited, cookies, your network, current location all influence your search results. Also, in many browsers, such as Chrome, if you are “logged in” search results are modified and personalized just for you. Of course, this is the natural evolution of search engines. Additional information beyond the scope of this article may be found on Wikipedia’s page on personalized search.

As a very simple example of personalized search, go ahead and Google the word “Pizza”. Even if you are completely logged out of your browser, you will see search results of pizza restaurants within a few miles from you. If you Google “pizza” in Manhattan you will get better different results than if you Google “pizza” in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Note: Search engines treat certain key phrases differently. Searches like “pizza” are always personalized, whereas searches like “how much does a gallon of water weigh?” may not be.

Making sure your searches are depersonalized

Below are some basic steps which will be more than adequate for most people who want to quickly take a look at their organic rankings.

  • incognitoUse Chrome’s incognito mode. Incognito mode opens a window where you can browse the Internet without Chrome saving the sites you visit. Think of it as a brand new browser which erases your history each time you close the window. Chrome won’t save a record of the sites you visited while in incognito mode. You can learn how to activate incognito mode here. Simply using this step is enough for most people.
  • Use Geo-modifiers. Currently, using a geo-modifier usually assists users in getting the same results no matter where they are located. If you are in Utah and looking for the best pizza in Charlotte, North Carolina you would simply Google Pizza Charlotte NC. For more information on this read What is a Geo Modifier?.
  • Use a proxy server. Good proxies come and go. My current fave it ishttps://hide.me/en/proxy. To use this site: Visit it, select the country you’d like your Internet search to originate from, enter a web address (such as google.com), then perform your Google search.

Of course, there are more ways to tweaking your results, but most power users already know them. The above should keep most people busy for quite some time and give you fairly accurate search results. If you need to improve your search rankings, feel free to contact me.


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