From the Market Motive Forums: Different Browsers Give Different Results. What’s the Deal?
Let’s say you manage a website. Every week you check the ranking status of about 30 keywords, typically using Internet Explorer (IE) or Google Chrome.
One particular morning somebody else in the office checks the rankings from a different computer via Firefox and gets drastically different search results – both in maps and organic. Not thinking this is possible, you try it on your personal laptop. Sure enough, typing in the exact same keyword phrases into IE and Firefox gives totally different search results than your colleague. In IE some keywords are ranking #2-3 on a regular basis, but over on Firefox the rankings are just #9-11.
So what in the world is going on here? Is there a way to optimize for different browsers or are you simply doing something wrong with your searches?
Don’t worry. It’s not you – it’s Google.
This scenario is actually very normal. Google rankings change based on numerous factors – the browser being one of them. But if you log into Google while using Chrome, the results are personalized based on past search history and preferences. Being logged in is a big factor in the results, followed by location.
With Chrome being a Google property, there may also be some other things at play. This is a business, and Google’s in it to make money (and of course, Firefox and IE are competitors). There’s nothing you can do about that – it’s driven on Google’s side.
Rankings are pretty unreliable, and “close” is about all you can measure with any accuracy. Checking the rankings weekly is not recommended if you have built up a strong history and preferences. You may be the only one seeing these rankings! Even different computers in the same office give different ranking results sometimes. Rankings are different based on personalization, region/location, the Google data centers delivering the results, and a few other factors.
One last point: You might want to look in Google Analytics. The SEO section under Acquisition shows Search Queries (you need to have Webmaster Tools enabled). This gives you the search terms leading visitors to your website for the past month, and the average page ranking for each term as per Google’s view of this. At least this tells you which of your search terms are generating the most traffic from an SEO perspective and how you’re doing with them.
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