How to turn off Google Personalized Search Results

What is Google Personalized Search Results?

Before going on to the procedure for removing Personalized Search Results, lets get to know what this term means. Personalized results are unique search  results for different users on basis of several factors. In general there can be two factors for getting personalized results and they are:

  1. Based on your previous search history. (Personal Search)
  2. Based on your friends recommendation and likes. (Social Search)
  • Personal Search: According to Wikipedia definition:

When a user is logged into a Google Account, all of his or her searches on Google Search are recorded into Google Web History. Then, when a user performs a search, the search results are not only based on the relevancy of each web page to the search term, but the service also takes into account what websites the user previously visited through search results to determine which search results to determine for future searches, to provide a more personalized experience.

What it actually means is that Google wants to make every result unique and personalized according to the users previous searches and number of clicks on different search results. It is like having a personal Google for every individual customized according to his/her needs.

  • Social Search: According to Wikipedia definition

Social search or a social search engine is a type of web search that takes into account the Social Graph of the person initiating the search query. Search results produced by social search engine give more visibility to content created or “touched” by users in the Social Graph.

This will show you results based on the recommendation and likes by the people in your circles. Result liked by your friend will be given priority than other general results.

Why to remove Personalized Search Results?
  1. It will restrict your scope of search based on your previous searches.
  2. In case of social search, results will be more according to your friends choices and reviews (eg if you are searching for a good restaurant you will be shown restaurants recommended by your friends on top than others).
  3. Might introduce privacy problems in which the users are not aware that there search results are personalized.
  4. In case you have a website and would like to know its rankings then it might not give you actual ranking but a personalized result.
How to disable Personalized Results?

Method1: Toggle Personalized Search with one click

  • When you are logged in to your Google account and you search for some query you will find a globe and a person icon on top right side of your screen. You can toggle from personalized to non personalized results by clicking globe icon and vice versa.

Personalized search toggle
Person icon: Personalized Results 
Globe icon: Depersonalized results

The only issue with this method is that it can be a pain to do it over and over again for every search.

 

Method2: From Google Search Settings

  • Go to the Gear icon on the top right side and click “Search Settings”. You need to be signed in to make any changes.

Personalized Search settings

  • Scroll down to the “Personal Results” section and select do not use Personal results.

Personalized search settings1

  • Go to bottom of page and click save.

 

Method3: Sign out of your Google account
Google stores all your information regarding previous searches in association with your google account. So if you are not logged into Google accounts that will show you depersonalized results. Although Google is planning to implement personalized search even for users who are not logged in.

 

Method4: Private Browsing/Incognito window

This is another good option in which you browse privately without disclosing your search history to Google or anyone. While browsing privately no information regarding your searches get stored in your system to send to Google giving depersonalized results. You can use private browsing in Mozilla and Incognito window in Chrome.

Conclusion

Google is working really hard to make the search experience better and in accordance with what the user wants. No doubt it is most visited search engine in the world but do you think this step of personalized search is really serving its purpose? Or is it just limiting the scope of information? Share your views and thoughts about this.

2 replies
  1. Ali Moghadam
    Ali Moghadam says:

    Great post Nishant – but some of these settings have become unavailable to users since the time of writing. And incognito still finds my location.

    I think that personalised results are a good idea in theory, from a user perspective. But I think that Google will, as it has with other services, tailor it to suit business.

    And that’s fine, they have to stay in business after all! But I don’t think we’ll be able to call it the best search engine in the world if results suffer for profit.

    Reply

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