If you’ve been dabbling in SEO for long, you’ve been dying to find a way to turn off custom search so you can see where you actually rank without Google custom search interfering. The good news is that you CAN disable personalized search. The better news is that it’s not as tedious as you might think it would be.
Basic ways to turn off custom search range from the time-consuming “log out, delete cookies, clear history, change location” method to the tedious “add &pws=0 to the end of the URL” tactic. Clearly, the powers that be don’t really want you to disable Google custom search. And for those of us who need unbiased results for accurate pictures of our site’s standings, they’ve made it difficult to get around. But only in the sense that there’s not any good documentation on how to do it.
Thankfully, there’s a relatively simple way to circumvent this problem. Enter Google Chrome’s Search Engine manager.
Yes, you do have to use the Chrome browser, but really, it’s comparable enough to Firefox these days that it isn’t the sacrifice it used to be. So, once you’ve got Google Chrome installed and customized to your liking with apps, extensions and bookmarks, you can move on to a nifty little trick in options to turn off Google personalized search—permanently.
Step #1: Get to Chrome’s Options Page
Let’s get right down to it: go to the options button at the top right of the Chrome interface (looks like a little wrench) and click. Go down to “Options.” Consult the graphic below if you’re having trouble finding it.
Go down and select the “Manage Search Engines” option towards the bottom of the screen under the “Basics” tab. This shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Step #2: Create a Custom Search Engine
And now we’re here! The next part is where the magic happens. At the bottom of the list of search engines that Chrome has created for you, there’s an option to add a new search engine. Click into the box and name it something like “Google Depersonalized Search.” The keyword box should auto-populate.
In the last box, it’ll read “URL with %s in place of query.” Place this URL in that box:
It’s a standard Google search query, where %s is your query. So, as is probably obvious by now, this customized search engine will take your query and automatically add the depersonalizing tag “&pws=0” to the end of the URL! The next step should be pretty obvious, since there’s a blue, glowing box right next to the URL that says “Make Default.”
Hit that button and boom, all of your search results will have personalization removed (unless you’re putting a search in from Google’s actual site, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway).
Now, here’s a little extra trick. If you want to be able to turn off Google custom search on a whim, but not all the time, I’ll show you a time-saving shortcut that can be customized in so many ways.
Step #3: Save Time with the Keyword Shortcut
Remember that “Keyword” box that auto-populated? What that does is, when you open a new tab in Chrome and type in the associated keyword, that search engine is activated. What’s even better is that you can make those keywords as long or as short as you want. For example:
I set up a custom search engine for Google Realtime search with the URL:
Then, I set the keyword to “grt” for Google Realtime. Now, when I open a new tab and type “grt” and hit either Tab or Space, it automatically sets my search engine to Google Realtime.
The time saving possibilities here are immense; you could set up search engines with shortcodes for different nationalities of Google (google.co.uk, google.sp, google.au, and so on), one for a standard Google search, one to disable personalized search, one for a “site:” search and… I think you get the idea..
Well there you go! Did this help? Let me know your feelings in the comments. I know a lot of SEOs have been looking for something like this, so please share it with your SEO buddies.
By Mitch Monsen