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Reasons why you may see different search results to your customers

Working out where your site ranks for certain keywords isn’t as straightforward as you might think. What you see when you type a search into Google is probably different to what someone else sees.

Here are four reasons why this can happen.

Cookies

All major search engines now return personalised results  by default. The search results displayed are based on the queries you have previously made and the results you clicked on. They also take into account websites you have visited directly.

Search engines are able to do this is two ways:

  1. By tracking the activity of users who are signed-in. For example, if you are signed in with your gmail account, your entire web history is recorded there and used to influence your searches. Similarly with Bing if you are signed in to Hotmail.
  2. By dropping cookies into the browsers of users who aren’t signed in. If you use Google search without a gmail account, your activity is still tracked.
If you wish to see search results unaffected by your browsing history, sign out of all your account, clear your cookies and perform the search again.

Locational Variationsgeographical seo

By using your ip address, search engines are able to establish your location. Using that information search engines are able to return localised results where relevant. For example, if you type in a search for electricians, the results will be unique to your area. Someone making the same search elsewhere will see different results.
With Google search you can change your location by selecting ‘Change Location’ in the sidebar menu of a search result.

Effects of Social Media

Following the introduction of Google+, Gmail chat, Gmail contacts list and Google Buzz, your search results can be skewed based on the activity of your social media contacts. If a contact of yours plus-ones a website or a search result, the +1′d page may well appear higher in your search containing your friend’s ‘recommendation’.
To nullify this effect simply sign out of all your social media accounts and again clear your cookies.

Google’s Data Centres

Google has 12 data centres located across the globe. Each time a user makers a search, Google randomly selects a data centre from which to pull the results. With Google continuously updating it’s index, you can often get a difference of one place or two depending on the data centre used as the latest index is updated to each data centre.
There is now way in which you can select which data centre you want to receive your search results from so is nothing you can do about these slight variations.
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