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False High Rankings - just our work location
traffik daddy




msg:4423086
 1:25 pm on Feb 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry if this is elsewhere, but I am seeing some wild jumps in rankings for a couple of clients keywords which I cannot explain and was hoping someone may have seen this and can explain it to me better. Some keywords jumped up 6 pages onto the first page, and the keywords are very competitive. This is not personalized results as I logged out of Google, cleared cache, browsing history, etc, plus my work colleagues are all seeing the exact same as me.

So I checked from our London based VPS to make sure and the keywords are not on the first page, they are where they were before. We are based North-West UK, approx 300+ miles away from London.

I have cross checked on different browsers from my work location, checked my colleagues laptops, and still it shows those two keywords on the first page from our work location, yet really we know they are not there in other locations, possibly most/all other locations.

How is it my colleagues are all seeing the exact same as me, and in other locations it is completely different? And I'm not on about one or two positions, which I could have understood, but to see wild jumps like that is not normal.

If it is not personalized results then what else could it be? I cant see it having something to do with our IP address as we dont have a static IP, unless it is the IP range that could be forcing these strange results? Is that even possible?

Thank you
TD

 

DeeCee




msg:4423219
 7:19 pm on Feb 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

On "static IP", FYI.

You and your colleagues are probably all running behind a NAT (Network Address Translation) router, which translates a single IP from your ISP to multiple internal ones on your workstations. So you all present the same exact IP address to the outer Internet (the router's external IP). Leaving only cookies and similar personalization to change the content if it should change. Check your internal workstation IP.. If it is a typical 10.* or 192.168.* type address, you are all using IPs that cannot be routed on the Internet and must be translated.

In today's world, even if you do not pay your ISP for a dedicated static IP from your service provider, on cable and other fixed service providers, your IP address on an always-on type ISP is in reality as constant (different from static) as can be. It is merely that you cannot advertise it in DNS as such because it "could" change at random times. This notion of course depends on the ISPs way of operating.

The IPs on my internet servers are really static, as in they are fixed assigned and announced in my DNS.

My home IP for my router, hiding a bunch of servers and workstations behind it, which is allocated by DHCP from my ISP and specifically defined as non-static is still fixed assigned to my house, and in fact has not changed for I believe 6-8 years at least. It is always the same. I even 3-4 years ago put it into my own DNS, so I can access test servers I have at home by that external IP.

This is why IP based location tracking works. The ISPs upload the list of IPs and their "approximate" location to the location providers.

lucy24




msg:4423312
 10:28 pm on Feb 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

The ISPs upload the list of IPs and their "approximate" location to the location providers.

For a given definition of "approximate". Today, the first two places I checked say I'm in San Jose and Milpitas, respectively. At other times they've said I'm in San Francisco, Santa Rosa or Redding. As far as I can remember, I have never seen one that's within 200 miles of my actual physical location.

Hm. Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to believe the tool that says this visitor is in Clyde River while that one's in Chesterfield Inlet.

DeeCee




msg:4423334
 11:11 pm on Feb 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

The given accuracy depends both on what the ISP upload (area, city, neighborhood, ..) and on the service of database used by the web-site.

MaxMind is one company selling location databases. If you for example use their free version, it has always told me that I am in a different city actually located 15 miles away. The paid for version is more accurate and updated and knows me by the right small town. Maybe because of the databases, or maybe because of my ISP sending up fairly accurate information.

My ISP know where my actual house and the IP is. The IP which I have had allocated for probably almost a decade, is located in their databases by a few feet and my account address. For privacy reasons they obviously do not upload that accuracy. But if I was a bad guy, the ISP could show the FBI where I "call from" in a split second. (The FBI probably already knows. :))

All the data providers have to do to devaluate the real values (maybe into a free version) is to offset the GPS coordinates by a slight amount (truncate some decimals) or merely pin it to the closest city name.

For services using actual dynamic IP addresses, the closest location data you would get is the area where that IP is routed out of, since you would need the DHCP allocation databases to know which account owned that IP at a specific point in time. The IP would be moving around between customers.

My databases track locations and world maps of all the "offenders" I catch, and for some countries the location data is almost non-existent. Almost all IPs for some areas show up with the the same exact "generic" GPS locations.

streetshirts




msg:4423530
 11:19 am on Mar 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

We have this and clearing cookies and cache usually lets you see the same results as elsewhere.

traffik daddy




msg:4424174
 4:30 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry if this is elsewhere, but I am seeing some wild jumps in rankings for a couple of clients keywords which I cannot explain and was hoping someone may have seen this and can explain it to me better. Some keywords jumped up 6 pages onto the first page, and the keywords are very competitive. This is not personalized results as I logged out of Google, cleared cache, browsing history, etc, plus my work colleagues are all seeing the exact same as me.


:)

lucy24




msg:4424326
 10:21 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Are your work colleagues in the same location? I mean of course the same general IP, not carrying their laptops into your office :) Have they ever done the same search on their own behalf, or only to cross-check what you're finding? G###s computer may simply have a record of "this IP is interested in such-and-such".

Robert Charlton




msg:4424428
 8:11 am on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

So I checked from our London based VPS to make sure and the keywords are not on the first page, they are where they were before. We are based North-West UK, approx 300+ miles away from London.

Location has been a key factor in Google search results for a while, since early after Place pages were introduced to the first page.

I've noticed that even when you're signed out with cookies cleared, or when you're signed in with search history turned off (and note that you must be signed in to disable search history, because search history settings are "remembered" via cookies)... geo-location is the big variable which still comes into play, no matter what your personalization settings are. Pretty obviously IP and ISP based.

You apparently can manually override your actual location with the Change location setting on the left side of the serps page, so you might want to give that a try. I've never succeeded in getting rid of localization effects for any particular location.

I think that the degree which location affects rankings would of course vary by query, but also by where and when you're searching, and it would depend on what Google might be testing at a given time. Google plays with localization a lot in its testing. It's worth noting that in its 2011 Quality Raters Guide (General Guidelines, v3.18), Google devotes twelve full pages to the importance of query location... that's 12 out of 125 pages.

Back in August 2011, we allow a specific search to be discussed here to examine bullet points in SERPs in this thread...

Bullet Points in SERP description, is that new?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4355288.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I observed in the course of my 4 posts on the thread that the organic results could be shifted quite a bit just by shifting my default location several exits up or down the freeway, to move closer or further to a particular company store we were discussing that showed these these bullet point snippets for a query. Some results disappeared entirely if I moved too far up the freeway, away from the national chain outlet that I knew was a few exits further removed. I hadn't in fact expected these serps to be localized at all.

When I revisited the thread on Nov 15, 2011 and ran the same tests again, I saw that extreme localization for that particular query, at any rate, was apparently no longer a factor. It's possible that Google has pinned down its location based factors for a while, at least for some searches in some locations, and that they're now playing with other possible variables... so you may not observe the shift I saw by using Change location.

"Extreme localization" was brought up by Greg Boser as a strong ranking factor at PubCon Lv 2011, and those observations certainly fit in with what I and several others here have been observing. To some extent, also, I believe localization testing might be what people are experiencing when they report "zombie traffic".

I'd be curious to hear what happens when you systematically run tests with different locations set on the searches you've been observing. You may or may not be able to override very distinct IP and ISP information, though... I'm not sure. IP vs Changeed location might even be another thing that Google is testing.

Perhaps you should also be careful what you eat for dinner before you do a search, as Google might be testing that too. Definitely be careful about where you eat it. ;)

traffik daddy




msg:4424517
 3:57 pm on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Lucy, I check from work and one of the keywords is at number 2, page 1 in normal results, and number 1 in the Google Places stacks (G Places comes up 4th spot in natural results at work). I check from home (approx 3 miles away from work) and the keyword is nowhere apart from number 1 in the Google Places stack on page 1, not in the natural results anywhere close to the first page. I check on my VPS and it is at number 10, page 1 in natural results, but with no Google Places stacks, but I would expect that as the IP address of my VPS is over 300 miles away. It seems I am relying on our VPS to show the true ranking position of our keywords.

All the time when checking results I flush the cache, browser history, logout of Google Accounts, run CCleaner, etc, but still very different results. My colleagues have cross checked from work, so yes, the same IP range, but I didn't think about asking them to check from home, it may be worth looking into, so thanks for the suggestion.

All this is making it very hard to track our clients keywords. My boss came to me the other day and said 'well done' but I knew something was not right, I explained to him I need to look into it further and found our location ranking very well for certain keywords whilst other locations were not.

Thanks for answering, I'll just have to go with it at the moment.

Hi Robert,

Thats a detailed post and I am going to go through it a couple more times to get some more ideas, plus the bullet point thread. I have had zombie traffic a few times on testing sites but I always had the feeling it had to do with the IP location of the backlink pointing to the website? Or the language of the content? I'm not sure. The strange thing was that the UK based traffic that came mixed with the zombie traffic seemed to convert very well.

Thank you all.

traffik daddy




msg:4425061
 2:30 pm on Mar 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi, just a quick update on this.

One of our clients rang today whos keywords are effected, he was over the moon that these two competitive keywords hit first page. It was hard to explain to him that they were not really there.

The thing is, I see different results within a 3 mile radius, and he is something like 20 miles from us, so how is it he is seeing the same phony rankings as my work, yet at home I am seeing normal results? He is quite savvy when it comes to clearing cache, etc, he knows how it all works with personalization, so I would say that he isn't seeing any personal results, at least, not voluntarily, and that he is seeing the exact same as us at work.

I work at home on clients websites too so if it has something to do with IP range hitting a website then surely I should be seeing the same results at home than I do at work? Also, my home is actually closer to him than my work is.

The only difference is that I work in the main town center and my home is more on the outskirts. I dont know if that makes a difference or not, but am throwing it in for good measure.

Could it be ISP related? Its a long shot but it has got me thinking, I am with Virgin Media at home and we are with BT at work.

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