Understanding Personalized Search Results

You may find that your search rank is much poorer than you think, because of your Personalized Search Profile.

More than likely you live in a Google Bubble. Jump to Disable Personalized Search

Most people do not know about personalized search results and how it almost always leads to a false sense of security. The results you see are tailored to your preferences using your past searches (Search History) and your location.


Search History is maintained in your browser, in its cookies and cache. Using this information, Google provides you with different search results than your customers see when they search for the same keywords. Don’t take my word for it. Here is a very good post on Google Personalized Search.

Since you search within your industry all the time, and often search for your own website(s), while your customers do not, you are likely to see search results that emphasize your website(s).  This is your SERP bubble. This is not what the rest of the world sees.

Your searches are going to look much better for your business from your computer because your search history is analyzed by the search engines before they answer your request for a search results page. You should clear the browser cache and delete cookies to help get a more realistic view of what your customers might see in their searches for your business.

But your location will also influence your search results.  Especially both Google and Bing have location awareness and will try to give you relevant results according to your location – even if you disable the location feature. Because you are likely analyzing your search rank from your desk, of course Google and Bing will serve results that are near you. You can change the location setting in your browser to a desired location to see how your target customers might see search the results for your keywords, but Google is still aware of your real location.  (for proof of this you can check the setting available in Google Adwords – in Adwords, at the campaign level, you can set ads to display by both actual location and by the location set in the user’s browser)

Bottom line:

If you really want to see absolutely unbiased search results for your business, next time find yourself in a target location, do a search from someone else’s computer.  This may not be a convenient method, but it is the most reliable.

We built SearchStation to overcome this Personalization problem when trying to accurately measure local search results.