How to use the Google search operators or the depersonalized searches

Dimitri Pletschette
4 min readSep 28, 2023

With great power comes great responsibility. We have all heard this famous “Peter Parker principle” sentence. Linked to that, and when using Google, we could quickly do an analogy: “With great capabilities comes great expectations”. We all expect Google to find the exact answers to our queries on the web, but for some reason, it is sometimes not precise enough or too personalized. This article will focus on “how to search like a pro on Google”. We will also conclude with a bit of a trick to “depersonalize all your searches”. So stay tuned and grab yourself a good cup of coffee!

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Google Search

What is a Google Search Operator? A search operator is a word or symbol that will help you refine your Google search queries on the web.

What can I do to be more precise when I search? Please find below some basic Google operators, and visit the Ahrefs site to benefit from the exhaustive list that could guide you if you are about to start an SEO audit for your brand.

AND

Search for X and Y. This will return only results related to both X and Y.
Example: jobs AND SpaceX
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?q=jobs+AND+SpaceX

OR

Search for X or Y. This will return results related to X or Y, or both.
Example: jobs OR SpaceX
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?q=jobs+OR+SpaceX

ALLINTITLE:

Return results containing all of the specified words in the web page’s title.
Example: allintitle: what is SpaceX
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?q=allintitle%3Awhat+is+SpaceX

“ — “

The minus symbol will exclude a term or a phrase. In our example, any pages returned will be related to SpaceX but not linked to NASA.
Example: SpaceX -NASA
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&safe=active&q=SpaceX +-NASA

FILETYPE:

Restrict your search results to those of a specific filetype — e.g.,PDF, etc.
Example: SpaceX filetype:pdf
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?q=SpaceX+filetype%3Apdf
How cool is that? With this query, I found the Falcon user guide.

SITE:

Limit results to those from a specific website.
Example: site:SpaceX.com
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?q=site:SpaceX.com
How cool is that? An online ISS simulator: https://iss-sim.spacex.com/

LOCATION:

Display news from specific geolocation (to combine with something else).
Example: location:Zurich AND SpaceX
Example query: https://www.google.com/search?q=location%3AZurich+AND+SpaceX

Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

What is a personalized search?

You may not know or have forgotten that Google personalized your search results during the day. You are being served with content matching your search profile if you use this search engine, as many of us.

Why should I care about this?

It is interesting to leverage this to minimize the bias on our searches when you perform an SEO competitor analysis. Your visitors might have a different corporate tech-orientated search history than yours, and it is a good practice to put yourself in their shoes to see what they see.

What can I do to remove the search results personalization?

If you want to diminish this drastically, add the term &pws=0 at the end of your query. Are you looking to make this your default search behavior? Then, please follow those steps for Google Chrome that will be similar for other browsers.

1 — Open your day-to-day browser (chrome in this example).
2 — Click on the three dots on the top right.
3 — Click on Settings.
4 — On the left menu, select “Search engine.”
5 — Choose “Manage search engines.”
6 — Click on “Add”.
7 — Use “Depersonalized Google Search” for the Search engine field.
8 — Use “Google” for keywords.
9 — In URL paste the following : {google:baseURL}search?q=%s&{google:RLZ}{google:originalQueryForSuggestion}{google:assistedQueryStats}{google:searchFieldtrialParameter}{google:iOSSearchLanguage}{google:prefetchSource}{google:searchClient}{google:sourceId}{google:contextualSearchVersion}ie={inputEncoding}&pws=0
10 — Save.

Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

Your default search engine should now be “Depersonalized Google Search (Default)”. All the searches you initiate starting from today will return depersonalized results as they include the above parameter.
You can also use a VPN, change your Google location, and activate the chrome://settings/privacy Sandbox to safeguard you from cross-site tracking while preserving the open web (resource).

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Dimitri Pletschette 🚀 LinkedIn | Medium | Twitter | Microsoft | Mastodon

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Dimitri Pletschette

Dad, Husband, Blogger, Digital Product Manager and Technology Enthusiast. Follow 👉 https://dimitripletschette.com