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Why Am I Seeing Different Ranking Results?

I obsess over rankings, and I know they say traffic and conversions are the most critical metric. Seeing your ranking results are soar fantastic and can be annoying when you see yourself doing great for a keyword, then when you check work, you get a much lower result.

Even when you are logged out of Google, the results aren’t uniform.

This article outlines the reasons why you see different results.

Different Results for Geography

  • IP address
  • Location
  • IP (location) match between searcher and website
  • Characteristics of country
  • Characteristics of City
  • Biggest markets in the country
  • Biggest markets in City
  • Popular queries in the country
  • Popular queries in City
  • Primary and secondary languages spoken.
  • Local listings in the country i.e., Google Places, Yelp
  • Top-level domain e.g .com
  • Keyword brand association in the City
  • Aggregated social data for your location

Different Result For Time

  • Time of the day
  • Time of the week
  • Time of the month
  • Time of the year

User Behavior

  • Bookmarks
  • Times page printed
  • Times page emailed
  • Search history
  • Interactions with the results, i.e., refinements made, bounces, etc
  • Time on page/ mouse position/ how scrolled / types of clicks on page
  • Opening links in new windows and tabs
  • Closing tabs
  • How much usage
  • Gaps between usage
  • Age and gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Social background
  • Interests
  • The number of other results you clicked on after clicking “x.”
  • The number of other search queries you made after clicking “x.”
  • Number of queries made on a given topic
  • During the same search session, the number of times “x” has been clicked on.
  • Results which you have exited/bounced from the most
  • Time the mouse was rested on “x” in the SERP
  • Times selected the preview option.
  • The number of levels you went into site “x” and time spent in each category indicates not finding what you want rather than exploring.
  • Time browser left open without any interaction.
  • The time page is left open without any interaction.
  • Cookies
  • Search made on a toolbar
  • Number of searches that require fresh results
  • Number of people accessing the internet from your location
  • The searcher’s experience, i.e., basic searchers, usually hit the first few results only and never go to the second page. Is site “x” getting the traffic because of novice users or because they were the best option after exploring a fair amount of results?

Search Engines

  • A server that supplied the data
  • The data center which provided the data
  • Search engines re-ranking results
  • Search engine experiments
  • Search engine algorithm update


  • Type of computer
  • The device used to search with
  • Operating system specs
  • Browser
  • Other open applications like Instant Messenger, Reader, etc.
  • Internet service provider

Final thoughts

It’s necessary to understand the factors influencing why users may get different search results. Google looks up to provide the best results for individual users.

It means that they want and expect search results to be different from person to person and that people searching in the same location may see individual search results.

However, there are some limits as to what a user can do about it.

From an SEO perspective, you should concentrate on the factors that you can control and be conscious that ranking in Google is always going to vary from user to user.


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