Why does one keyword give different search results?
Have you ever Googled your ideal keyword, then asked a friend to do the same thing? Have you noticed that you’ve gotten different search results when you do that? What’s up with that??
We get asked this question all the time, so today we’re breaking down how-in-the-H one keyword can give different results.
When thinking about SEO, always remember Google’s goal: to provide a great experience for their customers and give them exactly what they’re looking for. If Google can’t give people what they want, or make it a frustrating experience getting there, then people won’t use their service. So Google is constantly improving the user experience, which means that the terms of search change often. Keep this in mind and you’ll be ahead of the game in understanding how SEO works.
Reason 1: The Device.
Nearly 60% of searches are from mobile devices. That’s bananas! We’d rather type on our small mini-computers than our desktops (who else besides me searches with their phone while also using the computer?). So if you’re searching from a mobile device, Google knows this (Google knows just about everything) and will provide web pages that are more optimized for mobile than just sites that are optimized just for the desktop.
Keep in mind that Google prioritized sites with a good mobile design in general (this is called mobile first design), so it’s important that your website has a great mobile UI.
Reason 2: Browser History
Each browser you use stores your history and knows what you like. So if you change up your browser, you’ll likely notice different results. That’s because the results are personalized to your history, based on what you’ve clicked on and visited before.
Reason 3: Personalized Data
If you are logged into your Google account. Whether it is Youtube, G+, Gmail Google drive, Google will collect all of that user data to provide the searcher with the best result.This is called “personalized search results” and Google really likes this. Why? Because their users like it and it keeps people coming back to Google for more and more.
Reason 4: Geographic location
Location matters, and Google gives priority to local results, because in many cases they’re likely to be more relevant. If you’re searching for a restaurant or a doctor, Google knows where you’re located and will give you customized results based on that. Keep in mind that this happens while you’re traveling, so if you’re searching for a business in your hometown while you’re away, you need to be specific.
If you’re a local business, this is a great reason to enable all the local search capabilities that you can. We’ve written about it a few times, including answering why local search matters, and how to get it for your biz.
Reason 5: Past searches
Google tracks what you click, so if you search for the same thing over and over and clicked on results, Google will provide those same results, more or less, because it wants to give you something that you’ve shown interest in. If you’re searching for your own business a lot, a word of caution: this can make it look like your site is ranked higher than it might actually be, simply because you click on it so often. So follow our tips below to get unbiased (or more accurately, less biased, because nothing is ever completely unbiased) search results.
How to Get Consistent, Unbiased Search Results
These results might change several times a day based on all of these factors and more. That’s why Googling your search terms to see if your business comes up isn’t a foolproof method for determining how your SEO is performing.
To get the least influenced results we recommend:
- Logging out of Google
- Disabling location services
- searching from an incognito browser
- Clearing your history.
Better yet, enlist the help of an SEO professional! We have access to software tools that allow us to do a ‘reverse search’ to see what terms are coming up for your site. It’s super helpful to see what’s associated with your site, not to mention efficient, since you don’t have to Google each term one-by-one.