Managing Client Expectations of Local Search Results

Managing client’s expectation of what to expect in search results is one of the more challenging parts of SEO consulting. Keywords positions will fluctuate and unfortunately, there is no longer a universal search result. What they see is not necessarily what is seen two km away on a phone. In our experience, there are multiple factors influencing results. The four factors contributing the most are:

Previous Searches

Google will remember regularly searched similar keywords and offer results based on prior searches.

Previously Clicked Results

Pages visited from the links in the results Google returned will start to show up more frequently in results. Frequently moving higher on the page and occasionally creating a false impression of ranking higher. This factor can return competitor heavy results if a client has a habit of clicking on their competitor’s sites.

Geographic Location

Google relies heavily on location services, meaning that the search results will generally reflect the location settings on the device you are using. If you were to remove geo-modifiers and search in various locations you will get different results depending on the services offered.

Type of Device

For example, mobile users are more research-oriented, where desktop users are more likely to make a purchase. The varying intent was so strong that it prompted Google to roll out a mobile-first index. Meaning mobile search results update more regularly and the results vary significantly to the desktop counterparts.

Checking the rankings for a given keyword phrase for the business is not as easy as it seems and Google search results vary for many different reasons. We use tools to avoid these influencing factors as much as possible but even with that data, we only look at broader trends. The goal of SEO campaigns is to improve visibility and ultimately the traffic and engagement. The last thing we want to do is miss the forest because we are too focused on individual trees.