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Completely different results from different locations

 7:42 pm on Nov 11, 2007 (gmt 0)


I'm rather shocked. I'm from Poland, I'm using "google.com" (not "google.pl") to find stuff and to do my tests. One of my pages is in the first 3 results for a single word "widget", and I used to be surprised to have so few hits from google.

I use a proxy server from time to time to convince Google I'm from USA, or Germany, to check adwords competition.

Today for the first time I tested google just to find out where is my website listed in a regular listing, when Google thinks I'm from USA (proxy trick). Surprise! I'm not in the first 100 results for the same word "widget"!

I hope you get it, even if my English is pretty poor. When using Google.com, when my IP clearly says "I'm from Poland" I indeed do expect different list of advertisers. But I didn't know a regular listing can be different? Just because I'm from Germany/Poland/USA/Whatever? Since when this works like this?

Second thing-an idea came to my mind. maybe Google thinks my website is in polish (?), while it isn't. There is a polish version (as a subdirectory) but the main domain (and the concrete page I'm writing about) is in English. On the other hand everything is on a server in Poland. Is this possible that this is the reason I experience so poor effects on Google.com when using proxy from USA? May moving polish pages to a subdomain help?

I really count on your help.



 12:23 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Do you have Google accounts (eg gmail)?

If so be sure to log out before you search, to see what others see.

You say you are in the first three for widget - then you say you are not in the first 100.

Which is it?

Try to avoid proxies; they may affect google's view of you (log ins may not be reco=gnised) but they will not fool google about the site. Or any other site.

In fact, to see Google as others do (eg potential visitors) best not to try and fool Google at all.


 12:31 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

When I type in .com from the UK I get .co.uk results.


 1:59 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the past few months I've seen some remarkable examples of different results through geo-location - sometimes over locations that are not so far apart, such as Boston and New York. But it's usually a shuffling, and not a site going fromm the top 3 to below #100. My assumption would be that this is an anomaly and results will not stay like that.

I think this whole phenomenon underscores the need to avoid using ranking as the goal of our efforts. Ranking is a measure than can be useful, but the goal needs to be well-targeted traffic. Throw in personalized search and the picture becomes even more complicated.

So for me, the key metrics for success come from server logs and not from the particular search results we get on report day from any given location.


 5:41 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm sure you are 100% right.

With the extension of personal searches and geolocation, Google's searches will increasingly be unique to the searcher, his location and probably his favorite ice cream flavour.

While I'd recommend logging out and trying to see searches 'as others do' - it's worth adding that more and more of those searches will never be a 'typical' search, as fewer and fewer people will see a 'raw' search - so it's useful for comparison purposes, but less so as a way of understanding your site's ranking.

Increasingly, it will be visitor stats (and visitor actions) that are the only real indication of success.

And this is entirely intended; Google not only want more pesonalized searches and localized for 'better results' - they also want it to make it harder for their results to be abused and distorted. Several Googlers have said words to this effect at conferences, and Matt Cutts has alluded to this on several occasions.


 5:57 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Did you try the url www.google.com/ncr? That's the one I use all the time.


 9:09 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

where do your links come from?


 10:22 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi, and thanks everybody for answers.

I'm logged off from gmail/any other Google account when doing the tests.

Try to avoid proxies; they may affect google's view of you (log ins may not be reco=gnised) but they will not fool google about the site. Or any other site.

I'm using proxy just for that - to fool google I'm from somewhere else. And I don't want the logins to be recognized.

So for me, the key metrics for success come from server logs and not from the particular search results we get on report day from any given location.

Looking at the server logs tells me that this particular word doesn't give me as many hits as it should :)

Did you try the url www.google.com/ncr? That's the one I use all the time.

This simply redirects to google.com in my case, nothing more.

where do your links come from?

Mostly from english websites.

By the way, I forgot to say that this word "widget" doesn't give me a good position in google.pl either-but that I do understand because it's an english word.

p.s. using a proxy from Germany brings my website again to the first position. So actually only a proxy from USA brings those strange results.

Maybe it's the word itself is guilty? :)


 11:30 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

By the way - using Google.co.uk puts my site again on a good position (4th).

I started to believe that this is because of this particular word, maybe Americans are clicking on different links (in serps) that Europeans after searching for this word? (AFAIK Google watches clicks in serps?).

Or simply my proxy-trick doesn't work as it should.

May I say what word is this? It's a very popular word, nothing specific, not a product name or something.


 1:00 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

It could be that the proxy trick is in fact accessing a much more raw, un-ordered SERP than it should, as in, that isn't something people usually see. Likewise the remaining few Google API searches out there, it may be pulling up a list without *any* on-the-fly reranking, which usually negates relatively new gains.

For if nothing else, it'll nullify newly aquired trust and/or positive re-ranking coming from the phrase-checking scripts.


Don't you have anyone you could call/email to check the SERPs for you in the US? Just enter the terms, record the positions for a few days, and send it back to you... just like that?

Also, a Google Webmaster Account would give away a lot of info on this case in my opinion. Going back for an entire month, it'll show where you rank(ed) for 'widgets' on different regional Google SERPs, and also, whether people clicked on it or not.

My first impression was that this is a case of personalized search, but you said you weren't logged in - I assume the proxy trick was through a server and not your desktop browser too - so I'm with tedster on this one, sounds like a rare case of messed-up data synchronization and should go back to normal sometime soon.




Unless those 'english' sites are mostly English as in UK sites, and you have very few incoming links from well ranking US websites. The locality thus is tipped over in favor of showing you as a 'European' English result... with a lot of 'local' ( UK ) trust, but little support from the US ( generic TrustRank ). I could go on imagining different scenarios but this is my #1 advice in case you confirm that you indeed have your site at +100 spots down the Google.com results - compared to UK, DE, and European .COM datacenters. And that'd mean you'd need to get some US links to it, and not just any kind... relevant, trusted, high-quality links. But links where anchor text wouldn't matter as much ( unless it was completely irrelevant ), which is nice, for these links are mostly editorial, where you don't have a say in how/when they should link to you.


 1:50 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi, google does use different results on different datacenters, locations etc. Try this uncommented trick instead:

- first off, log out of any google online app (e.g. gmail, google accounts..)
- get rid of any proxy
- make sure your local ISP does not use any local proxy as well (in order to save for international bandwith)
- open your web browser
- input [google.com ]

?hl=en - tells you the results to be in English (interface only, not the results!)

&gl=US - sets Google Local results for USA

&q=widget+widget2 - this is your widget phrase, (adds a plus sign instead of free space in between widget 1 and widget 2 keywords)

&btnG=Search - confirms you clicked on Google Search button (maybe an antispam feature?)

So, you should be able to see your SERPS:

[google.com ] - for USA [google.com ] - for UK [google.com ] - for Germany (remember you should use German widget phrase instead) [google.com ] - for Ireland ... and so on.

To my best experience, putting IP address instead of Google.com sometimes does not work. My assumptions are that due to load balancing you may get redirected to a different datacenter instead.


 1:59 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

The (US accessed) G.com results are as regionalised as G.ie/.co.uk, I'd suspect the reason you do better in G.co.uk is less competition.

Check out the other English language Gs....


 2:03 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't you have anyone you could call/email to check the SERPs for you in the US?

I've just done that - the results are just like those with US proxy.


This brought up yet another set of results :( My site is on 8th position.

OK, it looks like Google indeed shows completely different results depending on where the user is from. Even when using the same google url (e.g. Google.com) and even when entering a query in english.

It also means, that we, people outside USA, to see google.com as it is seen by Americans, need to use the proxy trick or ask Americans for help :)

I didn't know that.

Thanks again for your help.


 3:51 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

thank you Konrad for bringing this up,
i always suspected this


 4:37 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow! I see what you mean! I just went to google.ca and got a totally absolutely different set of results than what I am getting from New Zealand on google.com. I wonder how different is google.ca from google.com as seen in the US? Maybe google.ca could be used instead of a proxy from overseas? Also, there are probably similar variations within the US?


 9:20 pm on Nov 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think if you go to aol.com and search from there, you will get Google results as they appear in the US, no matter where you are on the planet.


 1:40 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

thanks MarkWalk :)


 11:35 am on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Now it gets really interesting:

...&gl=us... gives different SERP results than ...&gl=US...

Try it!



 12:18 pm on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sure does. I don't know what gl=US or gl=us means, but the gl=US results are quite different, and much suckier in terms of a lot of trivial sites added.


 1:18 pm on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

The "&gl=US" part of the search URL tells Google the "geographic location" of the search. So "&gl=US" will return those results that anyone located in the US will see (I'm in Australia). And "&gl=UK" will show the result that a user in Britain would see.



give different SERP results.




 3:36 am on Dec 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've actaully started a thread that runs along similar lines. I've been trying to guage what % of total keyword searches a site actaully gets served for. Just because I see my site ranked in the top 10 does not mean that everyone else is seeing the same results. I guess it takes time and trust to get to that "volume" position. I suspect this goes beyond just the geagraphic boundaries in this thread and takes a lot of other factors into account. Anyone else have any ideas about this?

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