Had an interesting conversation with a client this weekend about his ranking in the search engines. When you do a search for 'Roatan real estate' on Google he has come up in the #1 position on Google ever since we started doing search engine optimization for him. However, this last week, when he started doing searches he started seeing himself in the #2 position. When I do the same search it always come up in position #1 and in my third party rank tracking report he has come up #1 every week for months. So his question was why did he drop?
The answer to that question is he didn't (kind of). Multiple things can influence search results outside of the typical ranking algorithm. I thought it might be interesting to cover some of those here.
One thing that can change search results is your location. Google has datacenters around the world and those data centers can get updated at different times. So depending on what data center you are logged into can change the results you see. Also, Google personalizes results based on your physical location. So, for example, if you search for 'pizza' on Google, you'll got results that are both national and local to you. Google knows that when you search for pizza you might want a recipie, historical information, national chains, local restaurants, etc, so it customizes the results based on the category and what most likely you are searching for and it has to be a broad set of results for a generic search.
Try this, go to https://geopeeker.com/. In the search box, paste this in:
On the next screen you'll search what the search results page looks like for different locations around the world. For my client, he came up in the #1 and #2 positions in the search results for me for every location but Australia, which was interesting. Why Australia would be different is kind of interesting. What was equally interesting is how the results, which were pretty much the same, how the results were laid out were very different for the different locations.
Another thing that can influence results is your history. Google will personalize results based on what sites you visit the most. So if you go to your own website a lot and then do a search that brings up your site, it may "artificially" be moved up in the search results because Google knows you like that site the best.
Similarly, Google sometimes will put social media posts, particularly from yourself or your connections in the results based on your history. So, you may see a post you did on Google+ come up on page #1 that nobody else would see on page #1 of Google.
There are some other minor factors that can influence search results, but this covers the basic ones. It is interesting how Google personalizes results based on numerous factors.