Monday, 7 June 2010

Personalised Search and Google Search Engine

Personalised search is pretty much old news by now. However, I was using Google chrome a few days ago and came across something which made me think for a second that maybe, just maybe Google had heard our cry and were looking to help us out with un-personalising our search! Here's a screenshot of what I saw.
Personalised search is really what the name implies. It's supposed to be a way for Google to help refine our search and make it more in tune with our personal preference. Say I search for 'SEO Blog' with Google and click on SEOMoz, Google registers this as a 'favourite' of mine. In future, when I search for SEO Blog again there would be a sight climb in my 'favourite' website. Sometimes, the elevation in SERP might be as a result of the website's hard work but most times, it's due to personalised search.

I see personalised search from two POVs. The good side is if I go to website and forget to bookmark it, Google saves it under my web history so in future when I'm searching for it again, it would make it a lot easier for me to find it. Good user experience, that's what search engines are always trying to achieve.

However, if I want to remember a website, and it's that important, I would bookmark it myself. Most times when I search for the same query I'm most likely looking for another source of information, not the same one I found the first time. For me, that's the down side of using personalised search generally.

Now, seeing as my life revolves around search engines due to my SEO job, personalised search just complicates things for me, big time. I log into google, and perform a search for my client keywords and volia, I'm #2, or better yet #1! Yesterday I was #8 or something. For a second I feel great, think it's due to all my hard work and SEO skills. Heck, even my client thinks so! But sadly, I'm mistaken. My personalised search is turned on and doing it's job. Oh joy. Sadly, we need to be honest in the SEO Industry and tell our clients the truth...

Turning Personalised Search OFF

There are a number of ways to turn off personalised search, but are they really that effective? I've tried the following methods:
  • Not signing into my Google account
  • Deleting all web history 
  • Adding "pws=0" to search queries
  • Customising my settings and switching off personalised search
  • Using tools like SEO Book's Rank Checker and SEOMoz's Rank Tracker
The best option for me has been deleting my web history. I simply use a browser which I generally don't use and delete all history once I'm done. This has worked fine for me, when I want a quick check. I use the rank checking tools when I want to monitor a number of keywords, it's quite handy when you have multiple projects too.

However, with the in-your-face off switch for personalised search, I might not have to go through all that hassle again. It does seem to be similar to the option found on the custom settings screen but I hope it's more effective. Does it really work? I've been having a play with it and seems to work well, so fingers crossed. Although it seems to be available for Chrome users only, let's hope that changes soon.

Have you tried the Chrome personalised switch? And is it working for you? What are you general thoughts on Personalised search and what other methods do you use to prevent it?

I just had a look to see if the personalised search was still available on the Chrome Google search page today and it's gone (wrote this post a few days ago)!! Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Working again!

08.06.10: Joseph from Affordable SEO Tips and Tricks recommended the following tools for Rank Checking, have a play with them and lemme know if it works for you:
12.06.10: Jaamit from SEO Insight also adviced it was the SEO for Chrome tool I installed that gave me the option of switching on/off my personalised search! Should have known Google won't! He also recommended the Yoast tool for disabling personalised search. Check it out. Thanks Jaamit!
    Welcome to the SEO For Beginners Blog.
    If you're visiting my blog for the first time please sign up to my Rss Feed for regular updates!
    And if you're interesting in learning more about SEO, I suggest you start out here. Thanks.