Getting Too Personal: How Google Gives You Personalized Results, and How To Get a Depersonalized Search


Google is smart. Smarter than you may think, actually. For example, did you know that Google personalizes your search results? You might not even notice it, but it’s true. Based on your past search results and search engine inquiries, Google learns from you. It learns what you are most likely to be looking for and clicking on, and what you will probably want to see more of in the future.

On the one hand, that sounds handy. Usually if someone is searching for something specific, they want to get an answer quickly, or at least get fairly relevant results within the first few options Google offers.

But, having personalized search results can be a bad thing, too. You’re not technically seeing an unbiased list of results when Google personalizes your searches, just a more curated one. Plus, in order to give you personalized results, Google has to first collect information on you and your web search habits, and that can make even the least paranoid among us, well, a little nervous.

So how does one go about de-personalizing their Google search results? There are a couple ways, actually. You can choose to opt-out of personalized results right on Google, for a start. It’s not a super difficult process, it’s just not one that people know they have to do if they want totally de-personalized results from their Google searches.

Or, you can use an “incognito” version of your web browser, and in that case, you wouldn’t be logged into Google under a personal account with personal preferences and a search history that Google can base results off of.

You can also delete cookies, or remove web history in general on your browser, so Google doesn’t have the information necessary to give you a personalized, specific list of results when you do a search on their site. You could also pause your search history, and un-pause it at a later point. So there are a few ways to remove or hide the information needed for personalized Google searches on your own.

If you’re really looking to get as depersonalized an experience on Google as possible, there are also online reputation companies and reputation management software that can give you more definitive results that are depersonalized.

Going with reputation management services can be good if you are a business owner trying to get accurate results about you or your business, or if you’re trying to see where you “land” on depersonalized Google results — are you on the coveted first page of results, or five pages back, where people doing a search may never see you?

Reputation management services can indeed help with depersonalized Google results, but that’s just one of the services these companies offer. Online reputation management professionals help you build and manage your “brand” online. They can help you and your business show up higher on Google search result listings, manage the reputation of you or your business online, and work with you to use things like social media and blogging content in an effective way.

If any of those services appeal to you, including getting a real, honest response when it comes to seeing depersonalized Google search results, working with a reputation management company might just be the right option for you.