Google Rankings Looking Better? Don’t Believe It

Have you noticed your site climbing in the SERPs?

Feeling pretty good about this?  Well, here comes a bubble buster.

I know, you turned off your web history, cleared your browser cache and maybe you even deleted your Web History from your Google account.  But guess what.  That doesn’t seem to matter right now.  If you are logged into your Google account (gmail open)  you will get different search results than if you aren’t.

We all thought we had this taken care of.  We know how much “help” web history can be for the average Google user.  But for we RE Bloggers that search our area “Tucson Real Estate” 50 times a day to see how we are doing?  Well. . .

It was early last week I noticed my sites were moving up rather dramatically in some cases.  I know Google is constantly changing the algo for search, so I figured it would last a couple of days and then it would be same o same o.  But, it wasn’t.  Then I opened Chrome and did a search. (I’m usually in FF since Firebug still works the best in FireFox)  Woo.  the search results were way different than FF where I was logged into Gmail.

Next.  Login on Chrome,  instantly the search results changed.  I started checking other searches.  Geez.

So I don’t know what’s changed, or exactly when it changed, but even without web history activated, Google is  tailoring  your search results, AGAIN!

Check it out and let me know if you are seeing the same thing?

Got a solution so we don’t have to log out or open another browser?


  1. Since I usually have Chrome and FF open, I use an incognito window in Chrome to check SERP’s. CTRL+SHIFT+N on a PC opens the new window. In FF you can do the same with Private Browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P), but it’ll temporarily close you active window. When you leave Private Browsing in FF, whatever you had open previously will return.

    For a non-browser based option, I use Market Samurai to track my SERP’s (plus a ton of other data). It’s not free, but it’s been a great help:

  2. This is definitely something that I noticed about a month ago. I certainly make sure that I am logged out of Google before I start doing my obsessive SERP checks throughout the day. It is good info for internet marketers that haven’t noticed the change. Thanks for your post!

  3. Great info for all internet marketers and savvy real estate agents leveraging the internet for their business. I guess it can be helpful for the average web-surfer, but it certainly makes life difficult for those of us that are trying to optimize our sites for better results…

  4. I have experienced the same results when analyzing my blogs rankings. I also search from chromes “private viewing” mode too.

  5. Nick,

    Thanks for the lengthy and informative comment. I’ll be using incognito windows from now on to check rankings. “Why didn’t I think of that?” DUH!


  6. Nicole,

    I like the way you turn our obsessing over rankings in to leveraging for optimized results. It makes us sound almost normal.


  7. Alex,

    Based on the number of comments already to this post, I’d say it isn’t just me. Google “Private View” LOL, yep.


  8. Wow… thanks.. I didn’t know that. I’m new to the SEO world. Have a degree in computer science but always learning with this stuff. I’ve created my own website for my business and helping others with theirs too and this comes in handy to know. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Google does know where you’re located based upon an IP address [numeric identifier specific to your computer and Internet service provider] so, while a tool bar or gmail account is certainly a factor, eventually it won’t really matter whether you’re logged into a personal Google account or not. With this information, they can track prior search history and determine what your future search results should be. If you search for “java” they can make assumptions about the intent of your search and that you are looking for coffee; whereas another person’s previous search results may show they’re looking for computer code.


  10. Chris,

    I believe some of this but the part about your IP address, and numeric identify, sure, but I check rankings from a dozen different location computers and IP addresses. It doesn’t seem to make any difference in the results; till I log in. Now it all changes. And it is recent. Not something that has been going on for years or even months.

    I removed the link in your comment for only one reason. It is a post about Google from 2008. That’s ancient history when it comes to Google.


  11. I feel like you are talking to me…hahaha. I literally check “irvine real estate” at least 20 times a day….I’m obsessed. I check from my computer, my phone, my wifes computer, office computer, you name it, i’ve tried it! Right now I’m doing what my web designer calls the “google dance”. Going back and forth from page 2 to page 3 to page 4 back to 3 and you get the picture. It is driving me nuts, but I am committed to getting to page 1. Incorporating facebook, twitter, and youtube has definately boosted my rankings. Creating realtionships with other bloggers like yourself is also a great way for some link love!

    Thanks for the post and for sharing…..Google seems to be one step ahead of everyone else:)

  12. Hi, do you mean that your website’s rank in the search is better when you are logged in a gmail account? But once you logout of gmail and cleared history to make sure, it goes down?

    Thanks for the heads up, ill test it right away.
    I’ve noticed our websites have different positions in search results depending on which computer each used, although both computers are using the same ISP.
    I thought it was random, but if its affected by gmail, then this is good info.

    bianca from Eton Properties

  13. I have run into similar situation, but not with my website. I have a friend who is part of my google group, and he has a website for his catering business. So whenever I do a search for his business, it comes up on top, and sometime it shows up because I use words that are somewhat relavent to his site. So it looks to me like google wants for us to do business with our friends.

  14. This post reminds me of a funny thing that happened in our office. One of our agents took out a big expensive ad in a real estate magazine that she “Ranks #1 on Google for Scottsdale Real Estate!”. The poor sap only checked her google SERPS when she was logged into gmail. She had no idea that affected her results. She really thought she was #1 🙂

  15. I knew about clearing my cache but was unaware of the other stuff. Thanks for the helpful tip. i need to go check this out and see where I really rank.

  16. I’m a recovering seo addict! 🙂 Used to check all my keywords several times a day, logging in to my google account, logging out, using several different computers, different browsers etc.

    What finally cured me is the great elation I felt when I reached the number 1 spot for a coveted keyword, only to realize I was logged into my google account. DOH!

    I’m now more of a social serp checker, I try to keep it to once a week.

  17. I noticed the serps drop on my other website for a week and then they went back up the week after. Everytime my site moves up in serps it’ll drop right before. Is that normal?

  18. You can turn of your search preferences in your google account so that it will not effect the rank of websites when you are logged in to it. Just log in go to preferences and turn it off. Then you’ll get the real rankings no matter what.

  19. Josh,

    Did you even read this post? That was true, then a few weeks ago, it didn’t matter if you had them search history turned off or not. It was still changing the results if you were logged into your google account.

    This past week, I’ve noticed I’m getting the same results either way. I’m guessing when they made the big change a few weeks ago, something wasn’t set the way it used to be making it necessary to log out of your Google account to see the real results.


  20. Thanks for the suggestion of checking in another browser. I always empty my cache, turn off gmail and start private browsing. Seems obvious to try another browser, I just never thought of it. I’ll cross my fingers and hope my rankings are the same. 🙂

  21. It sounds like a lot of us are in the same boat. It’s good to hear, I guess if we’re crazy we’re all crazy together. As I’ve been researching all this even more furiously, I feel a constant pull to balance. To balance the different methods of SEO and making our Idaho Real Estate site a great fit for consumers and for google. This might just be the key, as well as checking up on the rankings to see what effects each different optimization has on our rankings.

  22. Balance is certainly what is needed, but you won’t know if you do or do not have balance unless you are getting a true picture of your site rankings. I’ve found the easiest way is to open a Chome Incognito session.


  23. Great info for all internet proficient real estate agents using the internet for their business. Certainly makes life difficult for those of us that are trying to optimize our sites for better results. Google drives me crazy sometimes. Love hate for sure… Good post:)

  24. Ha! I’m an seo newby, and it took me a bit to realize what was going on. I thought I was getting dang good real fast… until I realized what the deal was 🙂
    Thanks for the post.

  25. Monitoring your SERP can be so frustrating! I use an app on my iPhone called “SEO Ranking” that monitors this for me without the tailored results. After getting really excited a few times and then realizing I wasn’t seeing actual Google results — just tailored results — I gave up on monitoring my website rankings via Google searches on my computer. Thanks for posting this though, it’s nice to hear someone else shares in my frustration!