Google Search Results Firefox and Internet Explorer

Be a Lab Rat conduct an Experiment, (No Lab Rats will be harmed in the process)

Upside Down Search ResultsI need the help of some Lab Rats (I use that term endearingly) who use both FF and IE.

Here is the Lab exercise I’m getting different search results from Google depending on which browser I’m using.

Not just a little difference in some cases the difference is Page1 #1 in IE and Page 2 – 5 on FF for some search results.

Why would I be getting different results from different browsers? I know about hitting different datacenters. I don’t think this can account for the results I’m seeing.

To add to the puzzle, if I hit search again in FF I usually get a reordering of the results. In IE they stay the same.

Therefore, I would like anyone using both browsers to check your keyword placements in both IE and FF and see if you are getting similar, same, or different results.

Where is the Difference Search Engine or Browser

If the search is coming from the same place why the differences? Is Google displaying one thing for Microsoft and something else for FF? Or is there a difference in the way the browsers gather, store or display the search results?

If you want to kill even more time, run the same checks on Yahoo and MSN and see if you get the same results you get from Google. (Does anyone use something besides Google?)

Finally, am I just loosing it and need to shut down the computer, clear the buffers and find a hammock on an island surrounded by blue water, balmy breezes and . . .

On The Beach


  1. Just tried it for my KWs and sure enough…you are right…weird

  2. Jeremy,

    Thanks for being the first to send back a lab results report. I’m glad to see you weren’t hurt in the process.

    Also good to have more confirmation of what I’m observing.

  3. I have seen a reordering of the results when using IE. Sometimes you can be in the results page and hit refresh and the order changes.

    But when I check the results using IE and FF I see he same placement.

  4. Hi Dave,
    I have noticed this here in new york. I believe it is part of a new algorithm to do with content freshness, and when Google senses the freshness. I think it specifically has to do with blogs. When i post on my blog, in a matter of minutes it ranks on the first page. Then after 4 hours it goes back to page 2. Now, i have heard speculation that through the Google toolbar, Google is checking individual activity for a particular keyword, and adjusting results thinking you may be overtly manipulating results, and checking them. However, that seems to be speculation.

  5. Dave,

    You have my direct email, so contact me and let me know if you want me to run some specific searches for you.

    I get the exact opposite of what you get… in EI6 I rank lower on a new KWP I’m working on, in FF I rank #2 w/no changes no matter how many times I hit the search button. yet, in IE6, I do see changes… drastic changes, when hitting the search button a second time.

    BTW, I know you are, or will be, here. So, email me soon.

    Matt Pellerin – Realtor

  6. I ran a couple of my keywords and thought you were crazy. I then ran real estate blog lab and minnesota evictions and see what you are talking about.

    The differences that I am getting are subtle and only after entry #5 on each search. Mostly they are just out of order.

    I typed “difference in google search results in IE versus Firefox” (quotes added for clarification) into Google and got this interesting article: firefox

  7. Dave,

    I am seeing static results using IE7, however, with FF the results on occassion do change very slightly. I think we need to do additional testing over a few days – after clearing the cache to determine a clear trend.

    I have not tested SERP’s on Yahoo or MSN.

  8. Steve Belt says

    Dave, just now IE and FF gave me identical results for “phoenix real estate”. I do not use the Google Toolbar in either of my browsers, so that may be part of the results that some others are seeing.

  9. Not trying to steal this from Dave, but, Steve your comment is interesting, because you are not using the Google Toolbar. Wonder if others testing are using the Google Toolbar?

  10. It looks like there maybe something more than speculation with the tool bar. The interesting part of the downloading of the Google toolbar is, there is a disclosure pop-up just before you download about allowing them to monitor your online activity. I will tell you this, it needs warrants further exploring.

  11. I tried FF & IE and got almost identical results on several searches. Different datacenters may account for the slight differences.

    Make sure you use the same capitalization in you searches on FF & IE. I’ve found some sites drop as many as 12 spots when I capitalize the first letter of the city. Strange, because Google says this should not matter.

  12. Could the difference in the search results be attributed to the Google dance you mentioned in your last post?

  13. Justin,

    No it wouldn’t. My reasoning there, the results are consistently different in each browser. They should sometimes exchange or be the same if it were just a difference in algo or data centers

  14. It’s possible this may be related to Google’s personalization algorithm. Google notices which sites you visit most often and will slightly adjust its results to fit your tastes. I’m not sure if they are keeping track of your searches by associating them with your IP address or if they are using a cookie in your browser. If they’re using a cookie, it’d be a good explanation on why your results between browsers are different, because your browsers would have different cookies.

  15. @Adam – In this case I don’t think that is the issue. I’ve tried this on multiple computers at different IP addresses.

    And the results as as different as on page 1 on IE 7 and page 5 in FF. That’s a huge swing, not just a few places.

    I haven’t tested this in FF3 or Flock to IE yet. But I am hearing from others seeing the same kinds of differences between browsers.

  16. @Adam – Interesting. But it looks like it is a sign-up service not something Google does without you turning on the service.

    It also doesn’t explain how the results are consistent across various computers at different locations and getting the same page 1 in IE and page 5 in FF.

    I’ve suspected for some time there was some tailoring going on in search results. My first clue came over a year ago when deleting all the temp internet files and cookies. All the search results changes slightly. Hum : )

  17. @Adam – I see what you are saying about Google services. The search results in one of my broker’s computers is different than on my computer, same browser, same operating system. It’s because he is logged into his Google account and it’s giving preference to links he’s clicked on before. One he signs out, the results look the same as my computer.

  18. @Justin in Oahu – That is a very interesting observation. I’m logged into my Google account all the time.

    Gmail and webmaster tools etc. Now I have to log out and see what happens. But, as I’ve mentioned before when I tried this on different computers I wasn’t logged into my G account.

  19. Has anyone pinged to see which google data center is reporting the results when you have tested in IE or FF?
    There is a way to do it, but I honestly forgot the method. 🙁

  20. Anyone found some answers? I have recently experienced the same, different computers, different citys and both with and without Google account turned on / logged in. Same result. #9 in FF and # 19 in IE. Anybody cared to ask Google and did you receive an answer? BTW my searches were in Denmark. First I thought is was something regarding but no.

  21. Lars,

    I think it has to do with your search history. Google tracks this and it seems to be done in the browser you are using. It moves results around based on sites you have clicked on in the past. If you click on your own site often it moves it up in the results.

    My guess would be you use FF as your main browser and are checking results with IE.

    There is more to it, but like most of what goes on with Google, we don’t know what it is and how often it changes.

  22. We’re having the same issue on the same computer, has anyone found concrete fix for this problem, if it really is a problem?

  23. Bill,

    As far as I know there is no “fix”. It doesn’t seem to be a “Problem”. Just an observation. It could be the data center each browser is on at the time. It could be the way the browsers each cache information or some way it is tweaked inside the browser. I haven’t heard of any good explanation beyond the theory I had about your previous search history being stored in each browser influencing the results returned by Google at the time of the search.

  24. Yosu Cadilla says

    I don ´t have the answer, but I have some ideas about it…
    I observed this behavior like 9 days ago and found this blog thanx to google.
    First of all I have to say I am ok and I received no harm from performing the searches 😉

    Ok, My word of the day is “facturae” I don ´t know if you will be able to repeat the same results because is a word in spanish and for spanish speaking people, and the results came from, NOT… but you can try.

    Any browser except for IE: Position 3 is and positions 5 and 6 are dancing for and
    Internet Explorer (with google bar) is number 6 and is number 3, is just missing from first page.

    That was all with WinXP, when I switched to Ubuntu with FF, was on pos#2 and on pos#10 missing again.

    MY 2 cents… I don’t know if google deviates his searches from to different datacenters (It could be good to know) but it seems consistent that google is using your OS and browser in the algorithm for our searches, and that factor has a strong weigth on the results, so maybe we should start optimizing for different OS and browser from now on…

    Yosu Cadilla ´s last blog post..La oficina sin papeles u oficina digital.

  25. Definetly different results for different browsers down here in Florida.

    + Yes, I have “web history” turned off in both browsers
    + No I’m not signed into Google.

    I hope it’s not more shadiness from Google trying to steal more money from advertisers like they do with the Chrome Browser. (They count all hand typed address visits as clicks on a google advert for Chrome users even though the user never clicked an advert.)
    Firefox has shown a willingness to bundle spyware from Google as part of an official Firefox distribution in the past. They seem to be leaning seperate ways over privacy issues these days but still . . .
    .-= Texxs´s last blog ..St Petersburg Small Business Web Site Follow Up =-.

  26. Since the origional post was written Google has implemented full personalised search for logged in and logged out users.

    There is however a little link at the top right that takes you to a page that allows you to “disable search customisations”.

    News flash though- it doesn’t work! Actually came across this post after trying to work out why I was getting different results, having made sure I was logged out in both firefox and IE, and had search customisation disabled. However, once I cleared my cookies and temporary files, the results were the same in both.