|Really different google.com rankings depending on country|
I am looking at a new client's site, they rank top 20 for their main search term.
When I set my IP using a VPN to their state.
When i change states, this drops to 25.
When I change to a different country, this drops to 150+.
All of this done on google.com
Other sites in the top 20, stay pretty much the same.
OK.. so there is a problem... but I am not sure what or why. Its doesn't seem to be a penalty that is about to roll out... its been steady alike this for weeks.
Is it a sign of things to come? Some local conundrum? Anyone seens something similar?
Sounds like normal personalization of Google serps. You can recreate this without VPN. On the left side of the Google serps you can change your location. Simply changing the city usually delivers some change in the top 10 results. Changing the state or country leads to even bigger changes.
If you want to increase the chances of ranking despite Google favoring sites that are more relevant to the local geographic area you need to boost your SEO.
My entire experience of using google.com in the UK is that results have always been strongly biased towards UK sites. The site that I ran at the time was related to an English location name which also occurs several times in New England. Page 1 never showed relevant US sites. (At that time AltaVista showed mine a little way down the SERPS with relvant New England sites above it)
"Sounds like normal personalization of Google serps."
Its not. And if a select Dallas in the left of google, or spoof being in dallas byt setting my ip, i get totally different results.
Spoofing being in dallas, i get the real dallas results, where the client's website is at 19.
Setting Dallas as my location, I get the same results as if i don't spoof a dallas IP, except there are some google places listings showing.
My client's website, ranks at 156 when the user is outside the US, 25+ when outside dallas, 19 when inside dallas.
Competitor sites change up and down by between 3-10 places, this site by over 120 places.
This is not a normal local variation.
But its fine, its seems my answer is "No, no one has ever seen it before."
Regarding the international variation - if you go forcefully to 'google.com' in most countries without using a proxy you are served hybrid results between your own country and the US results. They are not the results you will actually see in any particular country. This is quite clear when searching in this way from the UK as you see UK national stores mixed in with US ones.
This has been the case for years, and one of the reasons I have a vpn as well.
When changing Google.com to view another country results, you must also watch the "home language" (hl= parameter in URL).
If you view non-english speaking country, then most of google.com users will have their home language set to their own language (e.g. for germany hl=de). Google.com with hl=de and with hl=en from Germany IP will give different results.
You can also play with gl= parameter (geografic location) and setting this to something will again change the results.
I did find that if you have strong site and if the word/phrase searched for is the same in both languages, you will see less (or almost no) fluctuations in ranking.
Actually this is normal. The company ranks well in its own city because it probably has links that signify the city - local links.
It might not rank well outside the country because it is set to targeted in GWT for the US, or a combination of that and US.com links.
Build 30 quality links in French from related links ranking high in Google France, and well, you will see much better rankings in Google France.