Here's the scenario. You hop on your computer and fire up Google to search for a hot dog stand in Boston. Good news! Spikes Junkyard Dogs is the first thing that pops up. Your friend also does a quick search and never sees Spikes in his results. What's going on?!
Like many SEO issues - there are many reasons this can happen. It's simply frustrating. But here are the top contributors to why Google search results vary between users.
- Browsing History
Your most visited pages have a huge impact on the results you get. Google takes into account the pages you visit and tries to find the most relevant website for you . This is great for users, but very irritating for digital marketers as it's almost entirely out of our control.
TIP: You can always enable Private Browsing by using these shortcuts. This way you can see completely unbiased results.
Google Chrome: Ctrl + Shift + N
Mozilla Firefox: Ctrl + Shift + P
Internet Explorer: Ctrl + Shift + P
Where you conduct your search will have a huge impact on your results. This only makes sense. If I'm looking for 'hot dogs', I probably only want to see what is near me.
- Search Term
The tiny differences in the term you use can have a large impact. Sometimes it won't matter, but even the plural form of a term can result in slight differences. Just try it: do a search for 'bicycle' and then another for 'bicycles'. See? Many people would think they are typing the same thing - not so.
- The Algorithm
By FAR the most frustrating aspect for digital marketers. Google is constantly making changes to the search algorithm to give users even more relevant results and get rid of pages with spammy content. Again, great for users, but it really causes some headaches when the results change every time they release a new update.
- Time of Day
This one is probably less noticeable, but Google will alter your results depending on when you search. Some - the good ones - paid search results actually plan to only show up during certain periods of the day, known as dayparting.
Right now is the peak season for travel so the competition is hot for certain key phrases on Google. At every moment digital marketers across the country are trying to get to the first page, so as you can imagine, the results change quite a bit. It's even worse for the Holiday season.
This list is far from all-inclusive but I hope it helps shed some light on why your search results vary from other people or even just other times of the day.