As Google strives to provide the most relevant results to searchers, it seems to have taken an even bolder step to serving different organic results (yes organic) based on the location of searchers. We saw the need to explain this as a client of ours recently asked “How come the ranking report does not match with what I see on my computer?” Well, the answer is that there are many factors that affect the SERPs you see.
The first and most obvious factor that affects the SERPs. Our little experiment showed that the organic results for exactly the same term differ depending on your location. Have a look at our examples:
Here you can see the results for the search term “solicitor” from Newcastle Upon Tyne and Nottingham differ slightly. While the majority of organic results are the same, a couple of them are affected by the difference in location.
In this example the search term we used was “computer repair” and the test locations were London and Liverpool. Due to the high competitiveness in London, Google decides to display 2 paid ads and a 7 pack listing from Google Places as opposed to Liverpool results where there is only one ad and no Google Places listings at all. This time though, the organic results affected by location are more than two but still occupy below the fold area.
This example was specially selected to prove that even searchers within the same city can be served different results. The testing locations are Sutton and Enfield in Greater London and the search term is “architect”. Again, a block of 3 organic results just below the fold is different. Although this time the paid ads are at the bottom of the page, we can see a trend – the organic results affected by location are in a block of 2 to 4 and are always above the fold. It is right in most of the cases but we went the extra mile and found an example where this trend was broken.
After wasting almost an hour, we performed a search for “estate agent” from two testing locations – London and Manchester and we finally found a change in SERPs above the fold and even more – the results below the fold that were affected by location were not in a single block as usual.
Google personalizes your results based on your previous searches. When you’re signed in to any service, Google personalizes your results based on your account’s web history. For example, if you often click on Amazon’s links in your search results, Google will note that as a preference and Amazon links are likely to appear more often and in higher placements in your SERPs. Google now shows Personal Results when you’re logged into your Google+ account. These are based on your personal search history as well as searches from your Google+ connections, meaning that if the people in your circles like a particular Italian restaurant, it’s likely to come up higher in your search results if you’re logged into your Google account.
#3 Previous Searches
Even if you don’t have a Google account at all you are still going to receive personalized results based on your previous searches. Google secretly installs a cookie on to track all the searches and log all the things you have clicked on when using that browser and this information is used to customize the results that you receive. The cookie lasts for 180 days only and is installed on your browser so anything you’ve done more than 180 days ago or using a different browser or would not affect your SERPs.
If our images and examples were not sufficient to convince you then you can watch this video: