Time after time, I've seen happy excited posts in forums from people anouncing that they are on the first page of Google for something. And of course, they aren't.

Google customises its search results to try and find the 'best' results for you. It looks at search history (cookies, your gmail account), your location, any saved preferences (for example, when logged in to google -e.g. through Gmail, blogspot you can 'rank' search results). This means google.co.uk may bring back different results to google.co.nz and when you are signed in to Google, it will bring up your pages first - because you visit them a lot.

The BEST way to check your Google rank, and to find out if you are first on google or fiftieth, is to search without cookies or Gmail account, no memory or personalisation, and no customising to your location. This is a pain to do manually - delete cookies, log out, fresh browser, different computer, and you still can't be sure.

What you need is Scroogle.

Google search screenshot for 'flynn the cat'

Scroogle Scraper Home Page

Scroogle search screenshot for 'flynn the cat'Scroogle is a way to check where your links are really ranking on Google! Designed to be the ultimate private search, Scroogle has:
  1. no cookies
  2. no search-term records
  3. the access log is deleted within 48 hours

All of which means that your search results are showing the 'accurate' Google ranking. Oh, and no ads!

Of course, Google customises its search fir everyone else too... so it may mean that no-one is seeing this result anyway.

Things You Will Need

Obviously you need an internet connection and to know where to find Scroogle. Oh, and a search term! But apart from that, here's a quick overview of the browsers Scroogle supports and the other options for private searches.

Scroogle Browser Support and Add-ons

Scroogle works in all the major browsers. But what if you want to use Scroogle every time? There's a Scroogle SSL search Firefox add-on and a few ways to tweak the search settings for the other browsers.
  • Firefox - many Sherlock and OpenSearch plugins (not tested)
  • Microsoft IE7 / IE8 - paste http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?Gw=TEST in their box
  • Opera - Tools > Preferences > Search > Add. Pick a new keyword ( "x"? ) and for the "Address"
    use http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?Gw=%s Now x search terms should launch a search
  • Chrome - wrench > Options > Default search Manage > Add. Paste the URL shown for Opera,
    or better yet, use https://ssl.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbwssl.cgi?Gw=%s (Chrome phones home a lot)

  • You can also encrypt your search terms on insecure Wi-Fi or from browser monitoring with https://ssl.scroogle.org/ a

    - "Ixquick HTTPS" which doesn't record your IP address
    - GoogleSharing, and add-on that lets you connect to Google via a proxy.
    - Duck Duck Go.

    Step 1

    The cake is a lie and the poor cube had to die for it Here's a recent example to illustrate matters. "The cake is a lie and the poor cube had to die for it" is a recent reference to the awesome game Portal that popped up online recently - my page about the Companion Cube started getting hits. So I added a bit, posted in the Squidu forum and then went and blogged about it a bit.

    The cake is a lie and the poor cube had to die for itFirst off, you can see that I've now got something in the top three out of four spots. Second, daaaamn, Google loves Blogger; it hasn't even indexed the updates I made on my lens, and it has my blog post from seconds ago ahead of it. Third, my thread in the Squidu forum is up the top. Awesome!

    Or is it?

    The cake is a lie and the poor cube had to die for it- Scroogle A quick, paranoid, check in Scroogle shows that actually, the Squidu link is nowhere near the first page - it's only up there because I keep visiting it.

    It was originally launched in 2003 for just this purpose, after a major Google search algorithm change, but Scroogle has since developed around preserving privacy - it grabs random cookies from Google, uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to hide your search terms and your results (the same thing that's used to hide your credit card number when you pay online) and makes sure Google never sees your IP address.

    It works by scraping Google search results (technically illegal) from http://www.google.com/ie, a service for Internet Explorer 6 users. When IE6 was discontinued on May 5th. this did cause some problems for Scroogle, but it's working again now. It may not be a permanent service, but has been running a long time.

    Tips & Warnings

    "We don't know enough about you." -Google CEO Eric Schmidt

    Make sure you go to Scroogle.org not Scroogle.com or Scroogle.net - they are nothing to do with Scroogle, and are an adult porn movie site, and a generic ad domain squatter, respectively.