Google search gets a lot of concern for privacy issues. During a search input, your personal information, such as IP address, device, and browsing history, are available with Google. However, there are certain tweaks that can allow you to do a Google search anonymously.
The techniques covered here will de-personalize, randomize, and anonymize your Google search queries. This will ensure better privacy on any other browser except Google Chrome since its omnibox address bar and APIs are closely integrated with the Google search engine. However, if you follow this guide to protect your privacy on Chrome, you can make the search inquiries more anonymous than before.
1. De-personalize: Turn Off Signed-Out Search Option
If you thought that signing off from your Google account while using Google search gives you more privacy, you’re only halfway there.
It is correct that your “activity data” is off, and the recent search histories are not updated anymore, but the main challenge is due to Google search cookie settings.
Even the users not logged in to Google will accumulate a rich search history, which is often utilized to build a user profile and serve localized recommendations.
To undo this default setting, Go to Google.com (or your country domain) and visit “Your data in Search” from Settings.
Here it shows that since you’re signed out, Google Search isn’t saving any data to a Google Account. Even though it looks private, just scroll down below for an option which says “signed-out search activity is on.”
Very few of us would consider disabling this option, as it doesn’t strike out as very obvious. It is rather easy to turn off the toggle switch and get Google cookies off your back so that you enjoy depersonalized searches.
The only disadvantage is that your past searches on Google will no longer serve you relevant results and recommendations. However, if that’s what you prefer, you will certainly enjoy a greater degree of privacy.
Although the search information is no longer being used to build a profile, this setting will still not turn off search ads derived from IP addresses. There are other ways to do that.
2. Randomize: Use Startpage as a Middleman for Google Search Queries
On Google Chrome/Microsoft Edge browsers, you can add an extension for Startpage private search engine. This is also available for Mozilla Firefox. If you are not keen on installing extensions, you can change the default search engine in your browser instead.
Startpage is a proxy/middleman for Google search with somewhat reduced functionalities. Although it delivers Google search results, it doesn’t drop third-party trackers and cookies and ensures unprofiled search results,
The best feature of Startpage is an Anonymous View page which converts the search engine traffic into a randomized inquiry, which means no meaningful search engine data is being sent out anywhere.
Other than StartPage, you can also use these alternatives for Google Search.
3. Anonymize: Use Rank Console Search
True anonymization is not possible with Google search engine. However, if you use a VPN or proxy such as Tor browser, you are greatly anonymous to Google as well as ISPs or any surveillance agencies.
Another little known tweak for anonymous results is to use a free web service called Rank Console which is generally used by the SEO crowd. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the search engine as a casual user. You only have to register an account for free and then perform as many anonymous Google search queries as you want. As per the website FAQs, there are no limits.
The only limitation is that before every search, you need to use a bunch of presets. These include choosing the country of search, desktop or mobile device, and whether you want to remove ads.
The final results will be similar to any Google search query. Repeat the activity on another tab/browser window. The process might be too slow for those of us used to instant Google search hits, but the anonymity is probably worth it.
While the above methods allow you to do Google search anonymously, it is best to use DuckDuckGo or another private search engine. Even Bing has an option to turn off content-based interests in your search. What other techniques have you tried to be anonymous with search engines?