Different Search Results for the Same Term On Google

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When I got home on Friday I started to put the mac away for the night and just relax, but for some reason I decided to check some email and see what was happening on Twitter. Boy, was I glad I did that. On Twitter, Brad Gosse (his last name rhymes with boss) had a tweet that really caught my attention, “Google Algorithm Updates http://su.pr/ADk8o7”. The link took me to his website where a video was posted:

Needless to say I went right out and picked up a copy. The article alone is worth the price of the magazine (about $5 US). One of Wired magazine’s senior writers interviewed a few members of Google’s team and a member of Bing was also interviewed. This is a really great piece, I recommend reading it. One of the points mentioned in the article that Brad brought up is the varying results for the same term when searching on Google. Since I’m not giving away anything Brad hasn’t already from the article, I feel okay expounding on my opinion about one revelation of the many revealed in Wired.

Google revealed they are placing users in two different algorithms when performing searches. One is the normal or “control” algorithm and the other is the “test”. If a user gets different results than normal the chances are he/she just got to experience the test algorithm. I was sharing this news with a client who asked me days earlier why he got different results in Google from time to time. So I called him back and explained what he might be experiencing. He responded, “What? You mean they are intentionally skewing the results? That’s not fun.” And I have to admit for a split second I agreed with him.

Then I realized as an SEO what Google was potentially offering me, a behind the scenes look at what the engineers are testing. Now I realize this is just a test algorithm which means there is no guarantee that the changes will be made. Not to mention this same articles tells us that Google is planning 550 changes this year. But the fact remain, we are being given a chance to see what is being tested. So how can you use this to your advantage? The next time you notice Google providing some different search results ask yourself these questions:

  • How are these results different from the usual?
  • Are these results better than what I normally find? If so how?
  • Would these new alerts benefit my clients? What challenges would they present?

I realize that this may seem trivial, attempting to look at what Google is testing in order to predict what may come. Ultimately no one knows what Google will do but Google. But come on, you can’t tell me a chance to see what is being tested isn’t intriguing. Part of SEO is staying on top of trends and changes. Google is offering us a chance to look at what is being considered. I think this is incredible. What do you think?

Joshua Titsworth is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Chemidex. Josh maintains the SEO and SMM in addition to assisting with the PPC and Google Analytics reporting. While off the clock he volunteers as a SEO consult to his church in Olathe, KS, as well as to other non-profits in the area. When M.I.A. online he can be found roaming golf courses in search of his shanked golf balls. You can touch base with Josh on his twitter account @joshuatitsworth.

Joshua Titsworth

Joshua Titsworth

Digital Marketing Specialist at Vizion Interactive
Joshua Titsworth is passionate about all things Internet and technology related. When he isn’t online tweeting or blogging, he can be found tracking down shanked golf balls across... Read Full Bio
Joshua Titsworth
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  • Kevin Mullett

    Thanks for the heads up on this being in Wired as I too largely ignore items in print media for technical issues.

    It is worth noting that other factors that can alter SERP results have been known for quite some time, such as which Google data center is being queried or what location your ISP reports. For example my home ISP reports me as being from Fort Wayne, where as our corporate ISP appears to come from Illinois. Since Google is trying to present the most relevant results, it may alter the SERPs based on that location information.

  • Brad Gosse

    Hey I am glad you liked the video and thanks for the mention! Everyone in this business should have a wired subscription with the latest version by the toilet at all times LOL

    • Joshua Titsworth

      @Brad Gosse

      LOL Well with that in mind I’m glad you didn’t do the video where you do your reading!

  • Mike Wilton

    This is just one more reason that clients need to be educated that being #1 isn’t what it was years ago. Sure it still has it’s place, but that’s going to change drastically as the search engines tweak their algorithms to focus more on things like locale, search history, etc.

    I have this issue of Wired, I just haven’t read the article yet. Glad to see it’s going to be worth it though. haha

  • Besart

    Well thank you for sharing this info. The same thing has happened to me too.

    One of my computer at works shows me different results from my computer at home, and to tell you the truth I would really like the new results because all our clients web sites are being in top 5 positions in Google, while in older results their were in last 5 positions in the first page.

    Hope Google will integrate soon the new algorithm.

    • Alexander Berger

      But couldn’t that also result from the different searches you usually do on your computer at home and on your computer at work. Thus the search histories are different.

  • Miss_Zed

    Hey Josh – thanks for this find! Sounds really like worth a read – just hope I can get hold of the mag here in Australia! The varying search results are a topic frequently popping up and it's great to learn more about the reason(s) for this. Although as you said it might not make it easier to work with these fluctuating results – it is another sign and 'poke' towards being less obsessed about individual SERPs – never mind that most clients will never be convinced… 🙂

  • Joshua Titsworth

    I'm glad you liked this Miss_Zed! I don't know if they circulate in Australia, but I can tell you that Danny Wong linked to this article in his post here https://www.searchenginejournal.com/3-skills-you…
    It is located under the second skill 'Critical Thinking'. I could have just given the link here, but he wrote a great article that I think is worth reading. Enjoy!

    • Miss_Zed

      Brilliant! Thank you 🙂

  • Saria

    I do came to know that the google will store our browsing history at the same, it will store the results which we clicked and it will try to give the most priority for those sites only to bring to the top of our own search results to let us satisfy as was already our friendly site

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