Q and A: Do I have to disable Google personalization settings to check client rankings?


Hi Kalena

In the past, I made sure I was not logged in to Google when I checked my Client website standings in search. But, now are we going to have to clear *Web History* and Disable customizations every time we want to check our client’s rankings manually?

This article claims that Google’s new ‘cookie’ extends Personalized Results to All Users. Here’s a quote:  “Google has begun using a cookie placed on users’ machines to track their search behavior and offer personalized recommendations, even when they are not logged into a Google account.”



Hi Mitch

It’s true that Google have extended Personalized Search to all users, whether they’re signed in or signed out of a Google account. But you can turn history-based customization off – both temporarily and permanently. The method of turning it off differs depending on whether you’re logged in or out of Google, but in both cases the instructions are very simple.

Probably the easiest thing is to run your searches as normal and check to see if the SERPs you’re seeing have been customized based on personalization. As per Google’s official blog post:

“You’ll know when we customize results because a “View customizations” link will appear on the top right of the search results page. Clicking the link will let you see how we’ve customized your results and also let you turn off this type of customization.”

You can then choose to view the same SERPs without customization to ensure you know how the results look to persons who have opted out of personalized SERPs. But keep in mind that personalization has been in place since 2005 and SERPs all look slightly different to everybody.

There’s really no such thing as a consistent SERP in Google so traditional *rankings* are somewhat meaningless today. I know that’s sometimes a difficult thing to explain to a client, but it’s true!

For more on how Google Personalization does or doesn’t impact SEO, you might like to read my article: Can SEO Exist Beyond Google Personalization?


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