In the world of internet marketing and search engine optimisation there has been a lot of discussion about Google Caffeine and Panda. No doubt I shall write more about these innovations too as they develop and improve the algorithms to bring us all the quality, relevant information that we’re looking for.
For this article though I’d like to talk about something else altogether and that’s the self-deception that you can indulge in as a Google researcher and webmaster at the same time. Although it has been around since 2009, many of us forget about “Personalised Search” .
When you search, using Google search, for the keywords for your money site, well unsurprisingly, more often than not you click on your own site. Because you frequently click on your own site, over time, Google will show you your site first above your competitors.
If you allow cookies, it won’t matter if you are signed in to your account or not, Google stores your clicks for six months.
Now, for most people that means that Google seems to magically know what they like and lead them down familiar paths but for others it can be a bit of a pain. Firstly, if you’re covering a familiar area of research and want to explore avenues of enquiry you have not followed before you may find the results biased to the sites you are already familiar with or those similar to them.
Worse perhaps, you’ll keep seeing your own site popping up at, or near, the top of the search lists and believe you are an expert in search engine optimisation. Sadly though, when you use somebody else’s computer your site is nowhere to be seen and you blame the search engine for dumping you!
The obvious solution would seem to be going down the road of deleting your browsing history, clearing your cookies, temporary files and cache and starting over. That will work but all it does is reset your your history for now and you’ll be in the same position in a month or two. And worse you’ll have lost all the benefits of the personalised search experience and have to hunt for those brilliant web sites whose names are so darned hard to remember all over again.
Do not despair!
The solution is encapsulated in just a short little code &pws=0 which you need to put at the end of the search phrase. Easier said than done, of course! Here’s how it’s done:
- Conduct your search in the usual way from the Google search box
- The query will appear in the browser address bar with your personalised results
- Click on the address bar, click again to enter edit mode if all the text is highlighted
- Press ‘END’ to jump to the end of the query
- Type &pws=0 and press ‘ENTER”
- Your results will be depersonalised and reflect generalised relevance criteria
If you’re a bit of a geek, you can go to the next step and set up a bookmark or favourite location which you can use to do this automatically, if it’s something you’ll either forget how to do or will be using al the time. Rather than explain it all here, I think I’ll send you off to another chaps blog because he’s gone to the trouble of explaining the procedure for Firefox and Chrome. Go Craig Addyman!
Thanks to Craig for that, as I am not going to bother. I have lots of other SEO toys to play with, lucky me, and will only need to resort to he trick occasionally.
I hope you find the trick useful and aren’t too disappointed with what you find!
Alex Hope, playing here, working elsewhere…