If it appears that you are getting different Google search results from your friends and colleagues, when signed into your Google account, or when you switch from your laptop to your desktop this is not a coincidence. For many years, Google as been playing around with personalized search results, tailoring these results to the individual user.
The reason Google customizes their searches is to provide YOU with the best results possible. For instance if you are a social networking junkie, you may get results that get more votes in social networks compared to your grandma who may get more .edu or webmd/about.com style results. This is how Google makes sure YOU come back to their search engine. Google’s intent aside, the purpose of this post is to tell you why everyone gets different results.
Here is a list of reasons why everyone’s results vary
- User Activity – Google can tell if YOU like lengthy articles or funny videos. So your results may change base on that.
- Signed Into Google? – Signing in and out of Google used to be a way to turn on and off Google personalized results. But now that just turns on and off Google+ Your World. You can still get personalized results even if signed out
- Favorite Sites Historically – If Google notices you like about.com for your tough questions, you’ll see more about.com results than someone that never clicks on the about.com listings.
- Computer Location – Google can tell where you are located (based on IP, Service provider, social stuff, etc.) So your results could be tailored to your location.
- Location of Website – Google knows where websites are based (not hosted) so they can associate that location with the searcher’s location.
- Computer Speed & Website Load Time – Google knows how fast websites load and what type of connection you have and can determine which websites to give you based on that.
- Browsers – Whether you use Safari, Firefox, IE, or whatever. Google has an idea of how different websites perform based on the browser. Same with the OS (Mac or PC)
- You’re Preferences – If you have it set to display 10 listings or 100 listings can make a different in rankings.
- Multiple Data Centers – Google has data centers all over the world. Sometimes your website pulls from the closest data center. Sometimes the data center you are using is running a test of Google’s newest algorithm changes. Sometimes data centers rotate. Sometimes the data center you use is based on your OS or browser.
In summary, rarely do two people get the exact same search results from Google. Sometimes even if they are the same sex, sitting next to each other on the same computers, signed out of Google and sharing the same internet service provider, they can still have different search results. Although in this example chances are the results will only vary slightly.
The best way to determine how your website ranks according to Google and to the masses is to check your Google Webmaster Tools account and look at the “Average”.