Google search raises a lot of concerns about privacy issues. During a search, your personal information, such as IP address, device and browsing history, is available from Google. However, certain adjustments may allow you to conduct a Google search anonymously.
The techniques described here depersonalize, randomize and anonymize your Google search queries. This will ensure better privacy on any other browser, except Google Chrome, as its omnibox address bar and APIs are tightly integrated with the Google search engine. However, if you follow this guide to protect your privacy on Chrome, you can make searches more anonymous than before.
1. Personalization: deactivate the offline search option
If you thought logging out of your Google Account while using Google Search would give you more privacy, you’re only halfway there.
It is true that your “activity data” is deactivated and that recent search histories are no longer updated, but the main challenge is due to the settings of Google search cookies.
Even users not logged into Google will accumulate a rich search history, which is often used to create a user profile and provide localized recommendations.
To cancel this default setting, go to Google.com (or your country’s domain) and visit “Your data in search” in Settings.
Here, it shows that since you signed out, Google search does not save any data in a Google account. Even if it sounds private, scroll down below for an option that says “offline search activity is enabled”.
Very few of us would consider disabling this option, as it doesn’t seem very obvious. It’s pretty easy to turn off the toggle switch and remove Google cookies from your back to take advantage of depersonalized searches.
The only downside is that your past searches on Google will no longer serve you with relevant results and recommendations. However, if that’s what you prefer, you will certainly benefit from more privacy.
Although search information is no longer used to create a profile, this setting will still not disable search advertisements derived from IP addresses. There are other ways to do this.
2. Random: use Startpage as intermediary for Google search queries
On Google Chrome / Microsoft Edge browsers, you can add an extension for Home page private search engine. This is also available for Mozilla Firefox. If you don’t want to install extensions, you can change the default search engine in your browser instead.
Startpage is a proxy / intermediary for Google search with somewhat reduced functionality. Although it provides Google search results, it does not delete third-party trackers and cookies and guarantees unreported search results,
The best feature of Startpage is an anonymous display page that converts search engine traffic into a random survey, which means that no meaningful data from search engines is sent anywhere.
Other than StartPage, you can also use these alternatives for Google search.
3. Anonymize: use the search in the filing console
True anonymization is not possible with the Google search engine. However, if you are using a VPN or proxy such as the Tor browser, you are largely anonymous to Google as well as to ISPs or monitoring agencies.
Another little-known adjustment for anonymous results is to use a free web service called Filing console which is generally used by the SEO crowd. However, this does not mean that you cannot use the search engine as a casual user. Just register a free account and then make as many anonymous Google search queries as you want. According to the website FAQ, there are no limits.
The only limitation is that before each search, you must use a bunch of presets. This includes choosing the search country, desktop computer or mobile device, and whether you want to delete the ads.
The final results will be similar to any Google search query. Repeat the activity on another tab / browser window. The process may be too slow for those of us accustomed to instant Google search results, but anonymity is probably worth it.
Although the above methods allow you to do a 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 keep anonymous with the search engines?
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