Back in the infancy of SEO all you had to do was stuff a bunch of keywords in your Meta tags, hide some white text on a white background, set up 10 of the same website on different domains and you were off to the races!  There was no Facebook back then.  No iPad.  No smartphone. 

My how times have changed. 

Now if you want to rank well on Google you have to keep your website up to date, blog, use social media effectively, and get relevant websites to link to you.  So if you’ve been doing everything that Google loves and you’ve been monitoring your rankings, you’ve probably been Googling different phrases to see where you come up in the search results.  If you’ve been paying attention you may have noticed there are some differences in your rankings depending on how you searched.  Here are scenarios when Google will give you different results even though you are searching for the exact same phrase:

Your Location
Google will take your location into account.  If you’re on your home computer Google will determine your location based on your computer’s IP address.  So if you do a search for “Sarasota widget company” while you’re sitting in your condo in Sarasota you may get a different set of results than if you did that same search in Seattle.

If you are logged into your Google account while doing searches, Google will take your past browsing history into account when serving your results.  If Google knows you have visited certain websites more often when doing a particular search they will show you those options more often thinking that is what you’re looking for. 

Your Device
Here’s where things can get really crazy.  If you do the same search from a desktop computer, a tablet and a smartphone, Google will likely serve you different results.  You can even get different results if you have GPS enabled versus disabled on a mobile device.

So at the end of the day how do you know if you’re REALLY number one?  The answer is you probably don’t.  And while Google says this is because they want to provide the most relevant results to their users, I have to think that at the end of the day they also enjoy the fact that it makes an already moving target even more difficult to hit. 

Happy 4th of July!!!

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