Getting ranked in search results is high priority for most companies. Unfortunately, Google’s search results algorithm is ever evolving, which means it’s very difficult to keep up with what will help a website rank, what will get it blacklisted, and why you’re at the top of a search ranking one day and gone the next. However, we might be able to shed some light on that last one.
Google Search Engine Results Get Personal
Has this ever happened to you? One day you do a Google search for your company or a keyword you’ve been optimized for, say “Asheville home care” for example, and your website comes up in the top 5 search results. You’re so ecstatic that you rush over to a co-worker and tell her to Google “Asheville home care,” but when she does, your company isn’t even on the first page. How can that happen? How can a website be ranked so highly one minute and then not at all the next?
The answer is that there are a number of reasons why rankings fluctuate. Google is constantly adjusting and fine-tuning its search algorithm, which is the major reason that rankings sometimes feel unstable, but there’s also a Google feature that has slipped under many people’s radars that can cause a lot of confusion when you’re trying to determine your search rankings.
Google Personalized Search is a feature of Google Search that records a user’s searches into Google Web History when that person is logged into a Google account. Then, when the user performs a search, the search results are not only based on the relevancy of each web page to the search term, but the service also takes into account what websites the user previously visited through search results to determine which search results to display in an attempt to provide a more personalized experience. So, if you’re logged into your Gmail, Google+, YouTube, or Blogger accounts, your Google Personalized Search results will display by default when you perform a Google search, meaning that you’re not necessarily seeing what another person sees when he types in the same search term.
Here’s what’s happening: If you’re logged into a Google account and you perform a Google search, you’ll see this in the top right side of your screen:
When the image of a person is highlighted, like it is in the image above, that means the search results you are seeing are the ones that have been personalized to not only the term you’re searching for but to your search history as well. So, if I Google “home care marketing” my personal search is definitely going to rank corecubed, MOST, and Home Care Agency Marketplace highly because I search for and visit those pages frequently. When I click the globe image next to the person image, though, the rankings shift to show me how that search term looks to everyone else.
Kind of confusing, right? The remedy is simple, though. If you’re looking for how your site ranks globally, and not based on your personal search history, just be certain to click the globe button instead of the person.
Note: If you are not logged in to a Google account, then you will not see the personal and global buttons, and all your Google searches will be global and un-personalized.
Need some help getting your website to rank higher in a Google search? Contact the SEO experts at corecubed. We can help!