How To Rank On Google On Page One

Updated on 04-Dec-2012

One way to rank your site well on Google is to let Google’s personalization tell you want you want to hear. Google collects information about the way you search, and the sites you visit, then adds some localization so as to serve you the results he (I’ve always seen Google as a he) thinks will make you happy.

If you visit your own websites often – you will find that Google places them higher in the search results than he would for someone who had never heard of you or your websites.


It’s called personalization. And it means essentially, that no two people see the same search results. If you are interested in where this is could be going politically, you may want to watch this TED presentation by Eli Pariser where he presents his view on it.

My take is that I want to see where sites really rank without my web browsing habits shaping the results I see. This is because I am interested in where my sites appear for certain search terms and don’t want to always have to open up Market Samurai to check something.

Penny and Jane

To demonstrate this, I asked two of my WordPress coaching students (Penny and Jane) to make Jing videos of themselves searching for the term lemon cheesecake. I then took screenshots of their first page results. Both Penny and Jane are located in the UK about 210 miles apart. You can see from the comparative results below that the sites retrieved by Google are practically the same for both my internet ladies.

But There Is A Slight Difference In The Search Results

Penny had been working hard on her low cost recipes site at and she had just published a recipe for Lemon Cheesecake. Her own lemon cheesecake recipe appeared at page 1, position 4 in her SERPs (search engine results pages). On Jane’s search, Penny’s site appeared at the ‘correct’ position 22, in other words on page 3.

How To Rank On Google?

From Penny’s point of view it would have been easy to assume that everyone searching for lemon cheesecake would find her recipe on page 1 of Google. See below. Fortunately in her case, she already knew about personalization.

Penny and Jane's Respective Page One Search Results

How To Prevent Google Personalization

So what can you, Penny (or for that matter, Jane), do about the personalization that’s built into Google? Well, you could do nothing and always have to open tools like Market Samurai to give you a more accurate understanding of where you stand in the rankings.

If you are serious about building a business using your website, you will need to have basic monitoring tools, and Market Samurai is a good tool with a one off pricing and a free option. You can start now by downloading your free version of Market Samurai.

But if you would also like to see your search results less personalized, and if you use the Google Chrome or Firefox browsers, you can install an extension that not only prevents personalization but also allows you to search in a handful of countries outside your own. Please watch this video.

I hope you enjoyed the article. Please help me by clicking on one or more of the social media buttons on the left or the +1 button at the bottom of this page. Thank you.

Try Market Samurai For Free!

This article was updated on December 4, 2012

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is an experienced web developer and WordPress SEO Coach. Connect with her on Google+ and Twitter


  1. Ah!! I ALWAYS wondered if there was some kind of customization in my google searches or if everybody was seeing the same thing. Thanks for this. Now to go fix it. I may become depressed by the “real life” results!

  2. Another really handy tool – what a great little gizmo – you are so the go-to-person when it comes to making life online that much simpler.

    Many thanks Liz


  3. Thanks Elizabeth, that little tip has really been useful. No end of times I often wondered why my website was fluctuating in the rankings. Having now installed the Google Chrome add-on, it has made my life a bit easier… not only for myself, but when carrying out local search results. Many thanks indeed for sharing! Hans!

  4. Thank you for clarifying that. I knew there was some customisation but that makes it so clear (even if it is a little disappointing that I don’t’ rank as high as it sometimes seems!!). At least I can get at the real truth now :-)

    Thank you, as ever for clear explanation and instructions.

  5. Thank you for showing us how to utilize this useful tool. I didn’t know about it and do not have Market Samurai, so this was very helpful. I had been using different zip codes in the U.S. to see how my page ranked for certain keywords like “singing tongue” and “prenatal singing”, but this is much much better!
    Again, many thanks.

  6. Thanks for that tool Lizzy. I really did eat my heart out using Firefox as I was unable to get the install the extension because Google Global is not compatible with Firefox 9.0.1. Which I got automatically updated today. Go Figure! It’s a good thing I use multiple browsers.

    • Hi Karl – For me there is no comparison between the two browsers. I think I fire Firefox up about once a fortnight, if that. Yes multiple browsers is a good thing.

  7. Hi all,

    This is a great piece of information. would love to see same sort of information again n again n again. Like the author 😉 and wanna be subscribed here..

  8. Should we rely on Alexa to give an indication of traffic? Or shift to something else? It would be great if u would let us know some more details on this.

  9. Good deal Lizzy. I’ve always liked MS. They seem to keep up with changes from Google pretty well. Seems like as soon as Google changes something and some of the features break, they are quick to work on it and solve the issue. -D

  10. Once again I am completely satisfied with your video! Thank you for your efforts, I cant say that enough.

  11. MS is really a great tool for online businesses. Google Personalization really affects the search output. A very powerful extension by the way and love your voice.

  12. Great article Liz.

    Google personal search is causing a stir outside the world of SEO. The Electronic Privacy Information Center is considering whether it infringes privacy and antitrust laws. Check out Google Personal Search is causing major upset with the privacy lobby

  13. Hello Your Awesomeness,

    Love to see all of these comments.

    I had a partner in 2009 that lived about 800 miles from me.
    We always saw different search results. We thought it was
    because of our different locations, which might have been a
    part of it. But your Penny and Jane test was very interesting.

    Now I have a few questions for you…

    Do you think using another FREE Google tool, (Chrome) helps
    Google track all kinds of stuff about you?

    What is a “WordPress coaching student” and how do you become one?

    What is a “fortnight”? :-)


    • Blase – Thank you once again for your support!

      The comments here are great but I know already that I need to update this article. Google’s latest news in the last couple of days have made the search results even more personal.

      Location does come into it (localization), but personalization is being intensified as we speak. Did you notice the little blue guys in the search results since 3 days ago? You can switch between personal and non-personal search on the page now.

      Google have an ad track blocker extension for Chrome. You can read about it here

      And you can browse without the computer taking any notes on where you’ve been if you use Chrome’s Incognito Mode. This can be found under the spanner (wrench) at the top right / New Incognito Window.

      I have a handful of one-one WordPress students who are either learning to SEO and monetize their sites, or to build them from scratch, and then SEO and monetize them. I do it via Skype screen sharing sessions. I will add a page to this site at some point that explains how it works plus a couple of video testimonials if I can persuade anyone to get in front of a camera! The idea is that I make my students as self-sufficient online, as possible.

      A fortnight is 2 weeks. A contraction over time of of fourteen nights.


      • “Phew” LOL

        I’m sorry, at least it didn’t take a fortnight. :-)

        No little blue men here in MN, so that will be
        something coming my way I expect.

        Would love to hear more about being a student.
        But I am proud to say I put a slider in a feature box
        in Thesis yesterday and as you know that’s code in three
        different places + making new folders and on and on…

        It worked on the first try!!! I am so happy.

      • I’m so glad you’ve pointed us at the newish globe and person icons on the Google search page, Elizabeth, because turning on Google Global’s “De-personalize Google search results” option didn’t work for me – I still got personalised results – go figure!

        I love your very clear voice and presentation in your videos.

  14. Hey Liz,

    Look what Google just put on their blog. It’s a very lengthy
    post about what is going on with personalization, little blue men
    and lots more.

    Somebody at Google must be watching your posts because this came out
    on 1/10/11 a day after yours. See I told you Google has a huge network.

    • Yes – I saw that. It’s a bit worrying I think, because many people will not even notice that they can switch it off. I mean all potential customers …. so if they don’t already know you, then they won’t see you ….

      This means that Google have made G+ compulsory for businesses and have made it in businesses interest to make sure their target market click on the 1+ buttons. Or when they search, the business may not be there. There are other things to say about what on page SEO needs to look like now too. But I want to put a course together about that for WordPress users. If I am timely it could sell.

    • I’ve now turned on non-personalized results in my Google search settings. So my default is now non-personalized, but I can still get personalized results if I want, by clicking on the person icon on the Google search page. Haven’t a clue why I should want them. I think they’ve got it all wrong about people wanting to see their friends’ recommendations at the top of the results page. If I’m searching for fat blue widgets I don’t want my friends’ fat red widgets. Nor their photos of them. Pft!

  15. It really is getting annoying all of the changes Google keeps rolling out, especially this personal search via Google+ feature.

    It was difficult enough to keep up before……

    • I agree Jeff – what can we do? Some of my e-commerce friends are ignoring Google+ they think it’s possibly a fad that will go away. I dunno – they have us over a barrel …

  16. Ben Oakly says:

    Thanks for the post! I have recently been keeping track of my google rank, one day I +1 my site and the next time I searched for it I was on page one, so of course I started to tell everyone how good I had gotten at SEO. Of course no one else was getting my customized google search, so I looked like an idiot!

    I also hadn’t noticed that they added show/hide personal results so I’m sure many others will miss that as well, just when I thought I was starting to understand SEO google goes and changes the rules again!

  17. Thanks for this post, downloading googleglobal now. I’ve been wondering how to get rid of googles desire to spoon feed me :)

  18. I have just come across you website while surfing. Your post is superb and helpful for SEO’s. I read your other articles too. So , I just bookmarked your website and add it to my favorites.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.


    Amelie Wakelin

  19. Personalisation will become even more apparent now that Google are using a user’s Google Plus interests to affect search rankings.

    • True – as soon as my rich snippet author face image started to show up my traffic increased. My site is relatively new so this was a great boost. We’ve just written a WordPress plugin to help people with Google Author markup : See my link below.

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