Does Turning Off Personalized Results In Google Really Work?

May 26, 2010 • 8:50 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

A WebmasterWorld thread asks a question and paranoia (might be an extreme word here) I had myself about turning off personalized results. In short, people in the SEO world, mostly, try to turn off personalized results when searching on their keywords to see how they rank. Personalized results, especially on keywords you manually check often, can make a significant difference in the ranking of those results.

The WebmasterWorld thread asks if turning off personalization really works. Like I said, I often wonder if the &pws=0 feature (adding &pws=0 to the end of the search URL turns off personalized results) still indeed works. There are other ways people use to make sure that their search results are not personalized, such as logging out, using different browsers, using proxies and so on.

But Google can use other means to personalize the results, such as:

1.) Browser Configuration, Including: Plug-In Versions, UA String (which usually includes OS), Bookmarks 2.) Installed Fonts 3.) IP Address 4.) Geo-Targeting 5.) ISP 6.) Routing Information: EG Trace-Route? 7.) Similar Search Patterns 8.) Connection Speed

In addition, previous query is used both on AdSense and AdWords to customize and personalize those ads.

So do you think &pws=0 fully works? WebmasterWorld.

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No Name

05/26/2010 03:16 pm

It works.

Jaan Kanellis

05/26/2010 09:40 pm

Well your 8-points above pretty much spells out adding the &pws=0 alone doesn't make TRULY take away personalized search results.

Bill Kruse

05/27/2010 10:49 am

We're not likely to know ever, I wouldn't think, unless there are mass defections from Google in the future. BB


06/15/2010 09:18 pm

Up until early June I saw evidence that "&pws=0" worked. However, since then I am doubting that it does. One of the main keyword phrases we optimize for produced a ranking between #9 & #11 (depending upon the day) prior to early June when using &pws=0. When I did not use that string at the end of my search URL, we would be listed at #4 for this term. Since early June, however, we now list at #4 with or without &pws=0 in place. I know I've been doing some things to enhance our rankings and Google did a major algo update in early May, but I can't help but conclude that those are not the reasons for the jump. I base that upon the exact same ranking showing up either way & the fact that other ranking tools still show our ranking for that terms up around the #10 slot. Anyone else seen this type of behavior?

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