How to Get Around Personalised Search Getting In The Way Of Your Rank Checking

Personalised search has been around on Google for a while, but only for people who were logged in to their google accounts whilst searching. It basically tailors the search results to your browsing history. Recently this feature has been widened to include people who are not logged into a google account when searching.
It has interesting ramifications for SEO – your listing will appear in different places dependent on how many times the user has clicked on your site for the search term.
One client of mine emailed me recently asking if I could do anything about the fact that his site was no longer Number One for his tier one keyword. I checked on my laptop and he was indeed still number one. The company he said had overtaken him were nowhere to be seen on my screen. I asked if he’d been clicking on his competitor’s site a lot recently (he had), so I told him to click on the Search Settings at the top right of the Google page and then to disable the customised search.
Sometimes Google doesn’t show this information, and sometimes it puts up a little “View customisations” link just above the information about how long the search took and how many pages were returned for the query. If you click on that, you get a message like this:
“When possible, Google will customize your search results based on location and/or recent search activity. Additionally, when you’re signed in to your Google Account, you may see even more relevant, useful results based on your web history.”
Disabling it is one thing, another is to go to a Google Dance tool like this.
The Google Dance tool allows you to check your rankings on different google servers from around the world, and will give you your actual, non-personalised rankings. The “Google Dance”, if you’ve never heard of it before, is simply the term used by SEOs to explain how rankings seem to jump up and down as Google’s servers get updated.
You should also make sure you’ve got Rank Checker installed in Firefox and schedule your rank checking automatically.
Now…I really should be out in the snow instead of blogging about rankings the day before Christmas Eve!

The founder of Attwood Digital, Mark is a digital marketing veteran having been working online since before the dotcom boom. He created the world's first online skip hire service in 2003, has created multiple online courses, lectured on digital marketing and even written a book on the subject. He is also an ICO advisor and crypto-enthusiast.
  1. The Firefox plug-in Google Global is also very good. It allows you to search different country’s indexes from a right-click on a search results page, and Options has a ‘depersonalize results’ checkbox.

    1. Thanks for that Steve.

  2. Ah Ha!!
    that explains things – I was wondering about this problem.

  3. Mark,
    Logging out of your google account is a good start, but the results are still somewhat biased by your previous searches.
    Luckily Joost de Valk has created a series of plugins for Firefox ( that let you get unpersonalised search results when using the firefox search bar. There are plugins for each of the major googles (US, UK, etc.) and also a few other tweaks like being able to see US adwords ads.

    1. Thanks Ian. I’ll look into those.

  4. Google is doing many things to manipulate results based on user habits.

  5. Good article Mark. I always learn a lot from your posts and really appreciate it! I wish you a Happy New Year. Regards, Martin

  6. Google customized search results play important role in traffic but yeahh actual SEO IS logging out of google account that actually plays then role in organic results

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