“Why am I not seeing my keyword term number 1?” is a question SEO clients find themselves asking, usually right after they’ve conducted a Google search to see the results of their SEO services.

It’s understandable that after significantly investing on SEO, they want to see the results happening right in front of them. However, the truth is that clients asking themselves these questions forget to take into account that Google’s algorithm works in a very complex way, one that may most certainly remain outside the understanding of general users.

Starting as far back as 2005, Google began working around personalized search results as a way of facilitating queries and providing a better and more efficient search experience for the user. This means that using a combination of algorithms that draw information from cookies, search history, location, data collected on a determined IP address, click history, visit data and more, rankings are continually altered after searching for the same term more than once.

For example, if you enter a certain keyword, like “book shops in Raleigh NC”, more than once, Google may assume you still haven’t found precisely what you’re looking for so it alters the rankings in their search engine results pages (SERPs) in an attempt to provide you with a satisfying answer by showing you different pages and rankings every time. This would be a picture much different from the results a new prospect searching for the same keyword for the first time would get. Let alone your repeted attempts at surveillance of competitors.

Google makes money from collecting personal information (somewhat debatable) in order to sell targeted online advertising, so it makes sense that they use these types of personalized search mechanisms in order to provide users with the most relevant results, and therefore ads. Although the company has recently admitted that their personalization strategies have been reduced to location and immediate context from a prior search, it’s important to understand that just because you’re not seeing your keyword term in number 1 every single time you search for it does not mean your SEO company isn’t doing its job properly.

Depersonalized search and how it works

Every time a user conducts a Google search, information about their behavior, meaning which search results they clicked on or if they clicked on nothing and adjusted their search query, is collected.

Google uses this information to personalize any subsequent search in order to cater to what they think this particular user is most likely interested in. This means that their search results and the rankings they see will change by the second and third searches, even if they continue to look for the exact same keyword term. Especially if you as a business are clicking on your competitors to see ‘what they are doing’.

This is especially important for executives, managers and internal employees to understand since their own search results can be significantly skewed from any previous competitor research they may have conducted in the recent or distant past. This would not necessarily be the case for any other regular user/prospect searching for your specific keywords for the first time.

Depersonalized search tools are necessary in order to get the actual results that a new prospect would find when looking for your company or its keyword terms. These types of tools deactivate personalization as much as possible in order to provide you with the best view of actual rankings you would get.

At Look To The Right, we work hand in hand with depersonalized search in order to see and analyze precisely how a search term is being ranked without all of the influencing personalization provides. This allows us to provide a much more accurate view of the way SERPs look like when a new prospect searches for your business or associated keywords for the first time.

Since personalized search means there isn’t always consistent search experience across users, their locations, and devices, you need to be aware of the fact that tracking your own keywords without depersonalized search will not give you an accurate picture of what every other regular user sees, which answers your question of “Why am I not seeing my keyword term number 1?”.

Contact us today to increase your rankings! All LTTR clients receive actual rankings and if requested guidance on getting and using tools to do depersonalized searches themselves.