3 ways to disable personal results in Google

3 ways to disable personal results in Google

Summary: If you're tired of Google showing you personalized results instead of true search results, try one of the following three methods.

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TOPICS: Browser, Google
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Did you know that when you search for something in Google, your results are personalized by default? That means that the search results you see when performing certain queries aren't results in their truest, most unbiased form! After receiving a few emails recently inquiring about a way to disable this, I'm now going to show not just one method, but three; two of them being short-term solutions, and the third, long-term.

[Related: 10 Google search secrets]

To start, I recorded a short video showcasing all 3 methods. If you can't see the video or you would rather read the solutions, I provide all three methods down below.

Method 1: After performing a search, locate the following two buttons:

Click the one on the right (the globe) and your results will refresh to yield unpersonalized results. This is a short-term solution, because as soon as you close the search window, Google will default you back to personalized results.

Method 2: After performing a search, on the left hand side, look for the "More search tools" link, then click it. From the links that drop down, click "Verbatim." As with the method above, your results will refresh to yield unpersonalized results. This is also a short-term solution for the same reason as the method above.

Method 3: This method will allow you to permanently prevent personalized results and is my preferred way to search Google. To start, go to Google's home page, do a search for something, then look for this button in the upper right-hand side of the page, click it, then select "Search settings:"

Once you're on the preferences page it takes you to, look for the following section on the page:

Click the circle next to "Do not use personal results," then scroll down and click the save button. A window will tell you that your preferences have been saved. Close the window, then open a new one to perform a search. Your results should now be unpersonalized from here on out!

So, that's that. To note, the second method does a bit more than just showing unpersonalized results. It also takes absolutely no corrective actions, such as if you misspell a word in your search query. Verbatim searches for EXACTLY what you type in the search box. If you can't think of a good use for that, it's probably not the tool for you -- sans preventing personalized results, that is.

What other kinds of Google features drive you crazy? Let me know in the comments below and, if I receive enough responses from all of you, I'll cook up a post with solutions for numerous headaches at once. Happy Googling!

Update: Some weird script stuff was happening with method 3 when I tried linking you all directly to the preferences page, so I edited the post to walk you through the few extra steps needed to get there. Thanks for those who left comments letting me know of your issue!

-Stephen Chapman

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Topics: Browser, Google

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19 comments
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  • Google search results

    I have a better way - don't use Google. Use Duckduckgo instead and you won't ever have to worry about bubbling or tracking in the first place.
    heyfrankieboy
    • Google Search Results

      Thanks Frankieboy. I just used Duckduckgo and like the clean interface. Forget Google search.
      jpgarcia45
    • never ever?

      We'll see how long the no-tracking lasts when they realize they need revenue. Wikipedia says they are "self funded and now have occasional advertising".
      deathjazz
  • google ad harassment

    What I hate is when I visit some webshops, subsequently their banners start showing in Youtube. You can opt out from this by disabling the google cookie at google's /settings/ads/ page, but this disables ALL personalized ads, and to be honest, it does have some merit to get a valuable personalized ad now and then, even if it is one in a million. However, it is all or nothing. Some people living in families are really bothered by this youtube banner behaviour because their family members get to know exactly what site they have visited or what products they have been looking at, even if it is sensitive or meant to be a surprise or anything of the kind. I would love to know if there is a middle ground. And I would love for Google and webshops to just stop doing this. It's pure harassment.
    kouzen
    • re: google ad harassment

      @kouzen-
      The solution is to have each family member use their own PC login.
      William_P
  • How's it done?

    Any idea how the personalized results are implemented? Does blocking javascript and/or cookies on the page have any effect?
    Ginevra
    • A number of ways.

      Google isn't specific about all the ways, but they monitor your search and social habits in every way they can, then return results based on the things they think you want to see. You would have to spoof/proxy your IP address and not sign into anything, but even if you did, it would collect data based on your search habits on that IP address. And if you're signed into any Google services, forget about it. Blocking javascript and cookies will take away whichever search behavioral signals they provide, but you would need to do more than just that, basically.

      That's part of why they've provided these ways to prevent personalized results. They draw from so many signals that it would require you "fort knox-ing" your system to prevent them all. Or so that's the impression I get, at least. I'm not as well-versed on the specifics as others, so I welcome additional contributions to the question!

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
      • Re: tracking

        It's all in their global privacy policy.
        William_P
  • cookies?

    > Method 3: This method will allow you to permanently prevent personalized results (until you clear cookies, that is)

    I don't think it's using cookies, rather I think it's an account preference because method 3 seem to apply regardless of which computer you're on.

    gary
    gdstark13
  • How Can We Get This To Work?

    I set the Search instructions the way I would like Google Search to work. Here is the edit message I received after pressing the SAVE button:

    "404. Thats an error.
    The requested URL /blog/seo/3-ways-to-disable-personal-results-in-google/4845?tag=nl.e539 was not found on this server. Thats all we know."
    donaldbeal
    • Thanks!

      Sorry about that. There was some funky script stuff happening on Google's end, apparently. I've corrected the method to walk you completely through how to do it (which is actually what I do in the video, though it requires just a few more clicks to achieve than what I tried to provide earlier).

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
      • Not in google.ca

        Options 1 and 3 do not seem to be in google.ca.
        Re, opt 3 - the symboll is there but not the option mentioned.
        brucelparsons
  • 404 Error

    Steve - Attempted your method to block the personal search results. Google apparently is one step ahead of you, and reads your blog; The result is this error;

    404. That???s an error.

    The requested URL /blog/seo/3-ways-to-disable-personal-results-in-google/4845?tag=nl.e539 was not found on this server. That???s all we know.
    dbruner10
    • Fixed!

      I've updated the post. I tried to take away a few steps to make it as easy as possible, but it appears Google wants you to start from a page of their own since they forward you back to the page you landed on that preferences page from (typically, a page of their search results).

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
  • Method 3 Glitch

    After clicking on the icon and selecting Seach Settings, the only options that appear are: Safe Search Filters, Google Instant Predictions, Results Per Page, Where Results Open, Blocking Unwanted Results and Web History. There is no Personal Results option displayed. Would this be a Windows XP problem?
    sstrand1
  • Only an issue if you are signed in and/or have turned on "web history"

    I have looked at several google country sites using Firefox, and option 3 does not work on any of them. There is no option to set personalized results or turn them off. It seems as though google only serves up personalized search results when you are signed in (which I am not).

    When I signed in, the option is still not there - seems that you have to turn on web history - via the link at the bottom of the preferences page - for personalized results to be provided or cancelled.
    jonc2011
    • Interesting.

      Thanks for commenting about this. I went through and verified the very same thing after reading what you wrote. So, for those reading, only method 2 appears to work for Google sites that are anything other than google.com.

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
  • Verbatim Results Do A Lot More

    In method 2, you say to click on the "Verbatim" option. This does more than just showing non-personalized results.

    It also turns off:

    suggest spelling corrections and alternative spellings

    include synonyms of your search terms to find related results

    find results that match similar terms to those in your query

    search for words with the same stem, like "running" when you search for [ run ]
    Peter Sundstrom
  • Google search options won't stick/save properly

    Make the Google search option to open results pages in a new browser window as a default and let users uncheck it if they want to.
    pkchu520