Our aim in the search engine optimisation (SEO) game is to engineer our site to encourage the major search engines to categorise the site in searches for our relevant keywords, then help us to rank highly for these searches too; preferably on the first page and ideally at the very top. As we’re doing so, we understandably need to review our SEO progress and see how we’re doing; see where our pages are ranking. But it is important to remember that we may be missing the bigger picture, and only seeing a set of search results customised to our personal preferences.
I’m referring specifically to Google’s personalised search results, which can be a great idea for your average internet user, but rather misleading when tracking SEO. Google’s personalised search results use additional criteria to rank search results, which go beyond the basic factors to produce a list of results that the search engine believes will be of greater benefit to you individually. It uses complex algorithms which take into account the sort of sites you visit and with what frequency to tailor results to your needs, but the problem this present to search optimisation is that when you review your work you are not seeing the same results as the average user. Since the site you’re working on may appear higher in your personalised results you may not be doing as well in the rankings hunt as you think you are.
In order to combat this and to receive the same general search results as everybody else, simply log out of Google whilst carrying out your Google search or append &pws=0 to the end of your search URL in the search bar. This way you can see the same results as the general public and get a better idea of how your SEO strategies are being implemented.