The purpose of this post is for me to give you my opinion of what’s going on with position differences in Google’s search results. You know how one ranking tool tells you one thing, but manually you see another? Or, have you noticed that the rankings change when you sign into (or out) of your Google account? Well, this has been going on for years now. But lately it’s been getting crazy… a little too crazy.
For example; Raven tools may say that you are in the 9th position in Google, but when you check, you’re #13, and/or Rank Checker says you’re #16, but then you sign out, you see yourself at #21.. What’s really going on????
Over the course of this 3 part series, I will explain to you why your results are different from each other, and from the tools we use for rank checking.
Rankings Based on User Data
Years ago we noticed how rankings would change for users based on if they were signed in or out. If signed in, Google would provide results based on your historic search habits/history. Then they incorporated features that would provide you with results based on what your Gmail friends liked, shared and/or visited. On top of that, Google can tell if you like sites with videos or sites with 500 or more words of rich content (based on analytics and other click data). They will then provide you with results that’s fitting for you. This is something Google is proud of; proving its’ users with a experiences/results relevant to YOU.
Rankings Based on Regional Data
But that wasn’t enough for Google. They had to take search preferences and historic data to another level. They realized different regions have relevant topics and different sites pertaining to them. For instant, if you live in Georgia and are looking to buy a car, Google will likely provide sites closer to Georgia (mentions Georgia or trafficked a lot by Georgia residents), then lastly consider California classified sites (even though you said nothing about Georgia in your search query). Or, say you live in a town where your local minor league baseball team is popular, more popular than the major league team located in another city. Chances are if you search the mascot name, the results will pertain to the local team first. Why is that? Google wants to deliver the best results to you. And if they noticed that the last 100 people in your local town that search for that team meant the local minor league team, then they will assume that’s what you meant too. In a way, we are all guinea pigs helping Google understand how everyone searches/reacts.
Google analyzes this data and recognizes trends or seasonality of phrases and takes these stats to an even greater level; which is half the reason why they needed multiple data centers all over the world, to help them deliver fast and accurate results.
In short, Google knows yours’ & everybody’s search habits and history and has a better idea of what you want than you, (sometimes) and since we are all different, we may all likely have different results (signed in or not)
(NOTE: Google still knows you even when you’re signed out, you have IP’s, computer ID’s, Browser Cookies and habits, sometimes incredibly hard to hide.) Anybody think about Minority Report or Eagle Eye yet?
Part 1 – Results are Different for Everyone
- Results based on being signed in
- Results based on historic data
- Results based on location
Part 2 – Multiple Data Center Indexing & Caching
- Google has data centers nationwide
- We get results from different data centers
- Some data centers are used for testing
- Which data centers do tools & API use?
Part 3 – Universal Results & Tying it all Together
- Local, video, social, shopping & news results
- More than 10 results on page creating overlap
- Results not always coming from same data centers
- Since all the results are different… Recognizing trends
- Consider reporting average rankings (like GWT)