We report rankings based on a "Sterilized Search" - this refers to the way a first time user would use the keyword in a search. Google, by default, uses specific behavioral and geographical biases in determining the best search results for each individual user. This means that your search history and location all affect what you see in the search results. To provide you with the most objective rankings, we compile search ranking data without these biases on a daily basis. To accomplish this, our search engine scrapers add the code "&pw=0&gl=0" to the search results URLs during the data aggregation process.
Our scrapers are configured to update our database with the latest search engine rankings from Midnight to 8:00 am (GMT +8:00) daily, so the best time for you and your clients to check their rankings is typically at approximately 8:30 am (GMT +8:00) onwards.
To put this into perspective, here are 9 factors Google takes into account when personalizing your search results:
1. Location - Personalized results based on your current location. Google has a good idea of where you are (based on your IP address) when you perform a search query.
Ex. - Someone searching for "pizza" from a location in Australia, is very likely looking for a pizza location within 10 km of their inferred location. This works well for some types of keywords, but not as well for others (e.g. paper manufacturers).
2. Interface - Personalized results based on the interface you are using.
Ex. - If a search engine knows you are performing a search for "hospitals" from a BlackBerry, they can typically deduce that you are searching for a hospital within a given radius of your current location, and could reorganize the results with the closest hospitals first.
3. Query History - Personalized results based on a logical sequence of keyword queries.
Ex. - If you performed a search for "crayons" 10 minutes ago, and now search for "pens", personalized results would typically show gel pens results above Mont Blanc pens.
4. Input/Output Mode - Personalized results based on the mode through which you enter and receive your queries and results.
Ex. - If you carry out your search query by voice command, then you're more likely to want to receive the results via voice also (or at least a combination of voice and visual output).
5. Time of day - Personalized results based on the times Google surmises you are most likely working.
Ex. - Searching for "Trains" has a different meaning at the office (most likely booking train tickets), than when you're at home with your children (most likely children's books involving trains). Google may have determined that most of your queries are business-oriented between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, and more child-oriented after-hours.
6. User Behavior - Personalized results based on your search history or actions in the past.
Ex. - Did you click on specific sites in the past in response to a similar query? Did you leave immediately, or stay and interact with it? Your previous interactions offers insights into whether specific sites are a good match or not.
7. Group Behavior - Personalized results based on the collective actions of all users who have made similar search queries in the past.
Ex. - If 90% of people who click on a certain search result in response to a specific search query abandoned it after 5 seconds (while others tend to hold user attention much longer), then there is a high probability that the site in question is not highly relevant to the search query and the search results should be reorganized.
8. Social Search - Imagine Google or Yahoo knowing who your friends are (perhaps through Facebook, Gmail, or any number of social media sites). Then imagine that the search engine can either:
a. Aggregate all your friends' positive and negative reviews of certain sites, and reorganize the search results with sites possessing the most positive reviews first. b. Aggregate all your friends' user behavior patterns associated with sites appearing in the search results, and then reorganize your personalized search results accordingly.
9. Virtual Personas/Assistants - Personalized search results served through a virtual persona you created.
To learn how to manually perform a sterilized search or setup Google Chrome to do it automatically, please see How to Check Your Rankings with a Sterilized Search.