Remove personalized search and check Google global results in Chrome

For Chrome users: the advice in this post should take you two minutes to implement, and could save you loads of time.

How often have you wanted to search Google and see as ‘standard’ a set of results as possible, with no personalization, based on your location or search history?

It becomes even more necessary to do this when you’re trying to diagnose an issue, and want to see the kind of results that people in another location or country are seeing.

On Firefox, I’ve always been a fan of RedFly’s Google Global plugin, allowing you to quickly see search results from any country, with no personalized search results. But what about on Google Chrome?

A lot of what needs to be done can be achieved by adding new ‘search engines’ to the Chrome settings. This is a really powerful feature, and I want to show you how to use it to make your SEO life a little easier.

Adding New Search Engines

( You can click these images to zoom in)

Step 1: Click the ‘wrench’ icon, and then ‘Options’

Step 2: Next to your default search engine, click ‘Manage’ to see a list of the search engines available to Chrome

Step 3: Click ‘Add’ to create a new search engine, fill in the details (all the information about this is below) and then click ‘OK’. Optionally, you can make this your default search engine - it will then be used if you type search terms in the ‘omnibox’ or when you highlight words on a page, and right click to search for them.

The three attributes required are simply:

  • Name: the name for this new search engine
  • Keyword: allows you to access it direct from the omnibox; if I have Yandex set up with a keyword ‘yx’ then typing ‘yx hotels’ will perform that search on Yandex, rather than my default search engine
  • URL: it should be clear that all ‘adding a new search engine’ really does is give you quick access to a particular type of URL. Add the URL of a search result page here, and use the placeholder %s to show where the query should be. (Chrome will do the job of converting spaces to + signs for you.)

Remove Personalized Search

OK, that’s how to add a new search engine; hopefully it’s already becoming clear how I use this.

To search Google without search personalizations, I simply use the following settings:

  • Name: Google NP
  • Keyword: gnp
  • URL: http://www.google.com/search?pws=0&q=%s

The ‘pws=0’ parameter removes the search personalizations. I set this as my default, so all searches then return non-personalized results - or at least they’re not personalized based on my search history, though my location and other factors could still affect the results.

Quick Access to International Search

When we’re working with websites which have a presence in a number of countries, it’s convenient to be able to access localized SERPs quickly. The three key things to use here are:

  • the tld of the Google site you’d like to search
  • gl: to set the location you’d like to target with your search
  • lr: if you’d like to restrict searches to a particular language (certain non-English versions of Google offer this option) - you can select from the list of supported languages

Here are examples of the setting used to get results from other countries:

For Google UK searches:

  • Name: Google UK
  • Keyword: guk
  • URL: http://www.google.co.uk/search?pws=0&gl=uk&q=%s

For Google Spain searches:

  • Name: Google ES
  • Keyword: ges
  • URL: http://www.google.es/search?pws=0&gl=es&q=%s

For Google Spain searches, in the Catalan language:

  • Name: Google Catalan
  • Keyword: gcat
  • URL: http://www.google.es/search?pws=0&gl=es&lr=lang_ca&q=%s

This now allows me to use the shortcuts to to type things directly into the omnibox like:

  • hotels (or ‘gnp hotels’): to see the non-personalized results for ‘hotels’ in my area
  • guk pizza: to see the ‘pizza’ search results in the UK
  • gcat estelada: to see pages about the ‘estadela’ in the Catalan language.

OK, it’s a simple tip, but it saves me loads of time, and doesn’t require any special plug-ins or add ons. I hope it’s as useful for you!

Rob Ousbey

Rob Ousbey

Rob joined Distilled’s London office in 2008 as an SEO Consultant. Over the years, he’s developed and executed SEO strategy for clients from small businesses to large organizations, and managed Distilled’s Reputation Management projects, where he’s...   read more

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19 Comments

  1. Love it! Super easy to implement and it works. :) Thanks for the tip.

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  2. Paul lombard

    Yes, this is great - have been using this for a while. is it a must to include the gl= variable ? will the google.tld, in the url, not be sufficient? thanks.

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  3. Hey! This is great - I've been using it for a while, and get everything, that is a search engine, added to the Omnibar!

    Two questions:


    Is it necessary to add the &gl= parameter, or will the Google.tld part be sufficient to indicate locality?
    Is there a way that you can add a second parameter to the query string? So, we know that '%s' is the VAR that represents the query, but what if you wanted to, for example, use SEOMOZ's visualization tool to compare two domains - from the Omnibar? Can you somehow specify/enter a second parameter?


    Thanks.

    -Paul.

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  4. Cool post, I knew about the default &pws=0-search part, but didnt know what the "keyword" was for :)

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  5. Rob

    Paul: It may not be necessary to add GL, but I'd use it to avoid your IP address becoming a factor in the results returned.

    I don't know if there's a way to specify two parameters. That might be beyond the Omnibox's capability. However, it's entirely possible with a Javascript snippet.

    If you add the Chrome SEO Bookmark / Plugin that I created last year, there's a button to quickly access that SEOmoz Visualization tool. (Click 'SEOmoz Pro Tools -> Visually compare this page' and then type the comparison page in.)

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  6. Thanks Rob!
    This is a hell-of-a time saver!!

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  7. Very interesting! Although I still believe it's important for you to take personalized results once in a while, so you can study/understand why/when such modification to SERPs may happen.

    For now, I'll set up my chrome, right now!
    Thanks for tip!

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  8. Ari

    Great post. We've been doing these geo-google shortcodes for a while but haven't added &pws=0 ... I thought that wasn't a sure shot in removing personalization?

    Also - I see that you've mentioned &lr as the language variable. I always thought it was &hl ! Is this the same? Any links you can provide confirming that &lr should be used and not &hl ?

    @Paul - I highly recommend adding &gl= if you want to see how users in that country see results. Otherwise you will absolutely get different results. A user in spain searching in Google.co.uk will get different results than someone from Italy searching in google.co.uk (depending on the search term).
    On the same token, if I want to see exactly how users in the US will see something, I add &gl=us to my google.com searches.

    Once again, great post..

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  9. Hi Rob,

    nice post i have been wondering how i could achieve this in Chrome and its also good to find out how to use the omnibox in a more powerful way.

    Thanks.

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  10. Very handy, thanks for the tip. We are always looking at what international competition there is for keywords and topics and I used to have to use Firefox, but prefer Chrome.

    Being able to shortcut to 'guk xxxxx' is easy.

    Thanks

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  11. Fantastic tips Rob! I'm always busy so if I can save a few seconds here any there it all adds up! Cheers mate!

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  12. A good write-up, simple tips that are easy to use... that's the way we like them! :-)

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  13. Great, thanks for this tip Rob! Much easier than installing yet another plugin..

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  14. Thanks! I had actually no idea it was that simple.

    I am going to add that.. Right now! :D

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  15. This is perfect, I knew about the &pws=0 but setting up in chrome is very very handy.

    Going to have a play to see if I can setup up multiple custom searches and then allow myself to select which I want from a drop down in browser without having to go into preferences!

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  16. Updates for the latest version of Chrome (15.0+) the screens have changes slightly. It's now:
    Wrench (Spanner)
    Options
    Manage Search Engines (button in the 'Search' section)
    Scroll down to the bottom of the 'Other search Engine' list & add Name, Keyword, URL as described.

    There is no positive confirmation it worked, but scrolling through the other search engine list should find it.

    Also for it to work from the omnibar (not sure if this has changed from the original post, or I missed the point) you need to type the shortcut, then hit tab to select the new search engine, then enter the search phrase.

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  17. Works like a charm, and is especially relevant since the launch of Google+ which pushed up results for pages +1'ed by people in my circles.

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  18. Yeah this is great...kinda creepy how google tracks all that stuff.

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