Why Does My Website Rank Differently on Different Computers?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex process that includes lots of different ways for your business to succeed.

Unfortunately, it can also be confusing, especially when you’re trying it for the first time.

One of the biggest problems is seeing your site rank differently on one computer than another. After all, if you rank #1 for a keyword on one computer, you should show up there on every computer, right?

In reality, that’s not the case. On this page, we’ll look at why your website might rank differently depending on the computer you use and different ways you can solve the issue.

If you’d prefer to speak with one of our professional experts instead, you can contact us online or call 888-601-5359 today!

Possibility 1. Geography

Solution: Test with a VPN & expand your targeted keywords

Geography has a huge impact on search engine results.

Every major search engine in the world has implemented some form of results customization based on the searcher’s geography. This is called “geotargeting,” and it’s based on the IP address or GPS location of the device that’s in use.

In other words, an electrician could rank #1 for “residential electric work” in Springfield, Illinois. But they could rank #8 for it in Decatur, Illinois, which is just 40 miles away.

So how do you solve this?

First, it’s important to get a grasp of how widespread this issue is. For smaller companies, you may only rank #1 for searchers in your town. But if you’re a bigger company, you may rank #1 in multiple towns in your region — maybe even your whole state!

You can check this for sure by getting a VPN. Most Internet service providers give you one for free, and we recommend that you do not download a free third-party program.

A VPN lets you connect to other Internet hubs throughout the world. So for that electrician in Springfield, they could connect to a VPN in Chicago, type in “residential electric work,” and see how they rank for Chicago searchers.

If they don’t appear, they could target some more specific keywords with their content, like “Chicago residential electric work.”

In addition to solving the issue of geographic targeting, this is a great way to expand your content marketing strategy. It helps you target new areas, which lets you attract new business and grow even more.

In other words, it’s a win-win.

Possibility 2. Desktop use vs. mobile use

Solution: Optimize for mobile first

Search engines — and Google specifically — have started showing search results based on mobile optimization more than desktop.

That’s because most people in the world now use a mobile device to look up information online. People search for the things they need on the go, and they want to see results quickly.

So Google will show results based on how well they display on mobile devices.

That means if you don’t have a responsive website, you may still show up well in desktop search results – but if someone looks up the same keyword on a mobile device, you might not show up at all!

At the time of publication, Google is planning to roll out a “mobile first” index and start showing mobile-friendly sites higher for all search terms. That’s because mobile-friendly sites load and deliver information more quickly than desktop-only sites.

In other words, it’s never been more important for your business to have a mobile-friendly site — even if not all of your customers search for you on smartphones.

It just might make the difference between showing up #1 and getting buried by your competitors!

Possibility 3. Google search testing (“Google Dance”)

Solution: Wait it out

The final possibility is that Google is testing new search parameters, which briefly impacts search results.

This doesn’t mean that your position in search results is affected by the device you use — it’s more about the timing of your searches.

For example, you could show up #1 for a keyword on your home desktop and then search that same keyword on your smartphone.

But in those few seconds, Google may have rolled out a new update to test it out.

As a result, the search results for your keyword could look drastically different than the first search you performed.

Eventually, the search results will reset or “correct” themselves to the original format (unless Google makes the change permanent).

This may not sound very likely, but Google performs updates all the time. It even has a machine-learning program called RankBrain that, among other duties, considers how search results should display based on semantics, coding, and about 200 other factors.

And Google doesn’t publish every single one of its updates. Google makes 500-600 changes to its search engine every year, which is about two changes every day.

With that in mind, it’s completely possible that your search results could experience the effects of “Google Dance” every once in a while — but, with any luck, the effects will only be temporary.

WebFX is your one-stop shop for ranking in Google

At WebFX, we have a team of seasoned Internet marketing veterans who know exactly how to get your website to rank in Google.

It may take some time and consideration, but our team has worked wonders for our clients in the past. Now, we’ll do the same for you!

Contact us today to start ranking in Google — no matter which computer you’re using!