More threads by HoosierBuff

Dec 12, 2013
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Hi All,

I'm sure you've all dealt with this before, but, I want to make sure that my explanation is valid.

I have a client that is a Church, and I'm showing them ranking data that shows them ranking well for selected searches, and they say that when the church leadership gets together, and presents the findings, the church leadership does a search on their phone and the church doesn't show up at all.

Here's the detail: my rank tracker shows that for a search near their church, they rank #1 for "Church in <cityname>". I have double checked this with Local Falcon, Brightlocal, and the brightlocal Local rank checker Local Search Results Checker - SERP Checker for Google Local Searches

However, even though I have three different tools showing this rank, they say their results on their phones differ.

I think that my explanation is:

- On the phone, we don't know what cell tower they are searching from and it could be grabbing a cell tower that is from a different area than my rank tracker

- They could also be on the wifi, which, may be hitting a server not from that immediate location?

Does that make sense? What else could be happening here.
Yes, both are valid responses. Also, if they're logged in on their browser, their search history can influence results, etc. Show them how to do an incognito browser and see what kind of results they get at that point.

Also, since rakings move daily (sometimes hourly depending on industry), what someone searches on Monday may be different on Wednesday. They should still be showing, but may not be in the exact same spot.

But it definitely should be showing somewhere in search if it's showing from other tools.
User proximity to business is heaviest factor. Don't think cell tower / wifi network connections have anything to do with it. It's a GPS calculation!

Other reasons why their ranking is different to your reports:

Rank reports simulate searches as a brand new user to minimize any personalization/behavioral factors Google uses. They (rightly) report your foundational ranking performance as that is moreso something you can impact.

Your client logged into their Google account doing a search (probably one of numerous they've done over time and Google having a rich user interest and preferences profile already built on them) is very likely to see different results!
ok - so "personalization" -I thought google has said this wasn't that big of a deal, and also, I would think (though an argument could be made either way), the personalization would be more likely to show their own brand (presuming they would be more likely to click on their own brand than others).
more likely to show their own brand (presuming they would be more likely to click on their own brand than others).
Yes, it should be showing their brand more than another based on past history.

Are you physically able to be with them when they run the scan from the location? If so, if you use two different devices, both incognito and both via WiFi do they get the same results? Certainly, if they're within proximity to the church, it should be showing.

Also, can you confirm that they're just not seeing it on the map portion, or are they not seeing it on regular SERP results either?

I don't believe Google has any restrictions that you're too close to something.
Having moved to a rural area and using an ISP based on cell signal, I can testify to the inaccuracy of Google's location-tracking. I'm in southern Missouri but got SERPs from Chicago all the time.

Your predicament begs the question: what is an 'accurate' ranking result?

We stopped providing ranking reports long ago to our clients because it went both ways: sometimes the client would tell us they were ranking well and we couldn't find them and vice versa. Instead, we track traffic and leads.

I would be sure that you know what they are searching and seeing. Ask for screenshots from multiple devices and ask them to try the search on a friend's device.

Sometimes the search phrase that the client is searching is absolutely baffling. Also, sometimes their "Google" ranking is actually a SERP from Bing. 🤦‍♂️

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