How to turn off Google personalisation (SMO) and go back to SEO BUT: SEO is dead, SMO rules. Search Engine Optimization has been hijacked by your friends and family (Social Media Optimization) and that’s a good thing.

When you do a search now on Google, Google checks your history and your friends’ histories and gives your results based on what you’ve looked at before and what your friends have shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress, and so on. Which is great if your friends have awesome taste, and less great if they don’t.  SEO is a waste of money, or will be very soon. If my results look like this already (see below) what will our search results look like in a year? 2 years? 10 years? SMO (social media optimization) is in, SEO (search engine optimization) is out.

SEO vs SMO or Search Engine Optimization vs Social Media Optimization

SEO is where your website page is ranked based on links coming in, links going out, and keywords connecting the web of pages connected to your website.  It’s a numbers game.

SMO is where your website appears in front of a customer ONLY if that customers friends and family have been visiting, sharing, tweeting about that page. So a group of developers in India will get different search results than a group of partiers in Sydney.

To TURN OFF Google personalisation type in


e.g. apple &pws=0

CORRECTION as pointed out by @frankinguyen on Twitter 🙂 : Add it to the search results URL, not the field.

Two examples of SMO vs SEO

FIRST SEARCH: Search Term: Laurel Papworth (My History)

Notice my little smiley face all over search.  My own history has hijacked search.

SECOND SEARCH: Search Term: Laurel Papworth &pws=0 (Vanilla search)

Notice the lack of little smiley faces. Notice that my own searches and my friends recommendations don’t filter for me. It’s not hijacked by friends, it’s hijacked by the most trafficked sites with good SEO experts advising them 🙂 .

If we try another search

FIRST SEARCH Search Term: online communities (SMO – my friends’ sharing history)

Notice my friends little smiley faces – SMO means you get a different search result cos you have different friends. Plus, I’m Little Miss Popular on social networks so have more friends to change the results. You will soon, too.

Search Term online communities  &pws=0 (straight SEO search, no SMO)

Notice again that search now has as it’s top return not a link from my friend Fred Zimny but from general sites.

Paying for SEO vs SMO

Don’t bother paying SEO clowns to tweet and Facebook your site. It will only hijack the results of THEIR social network, not bring you more clients. Unless your clients are friends with paid-for-tweeters? Pure SEO will work for some time to come, until all your friends and family and colleagues have built up a body of Shares between them.  Good sites will always have good SEO and good SMO. Make sure you get good advice on SEO and SMO – don’t buy links hoping it will help your rankings for years to come!

Interesting?  For my class tomorrow… *waves from yesterday* … CAVEAT I am not an SEO expert, just reporting as I see things changing that affects Social Media.