Over the next two weeks leading up to Christmas, Im going to revisit the 10 articles which appear to have been read the most on our website in 2011. We start with What do the Google results look like in your Australian office? from last April, where I discussed the relatively new phenomenon of almost no two users Google results for a query looking alike. What we all need to get used to is the fact that the whole concept of being number one on Google doesnt make much sense any more, because if one person sees your result high up in a search for blue widgets, its quite likely that the next person wont. There are all sorts of factors which come into play when it comes to what Google serves up, and there are more appearing all of the time. When I wrote the article, search results related to the location of the request were long established, and personalised search (where results were influenced by your previous searches) had become increasingly important. Since then, Google has introduced its +1 programme, so we now need to get used to results which are affected by what your friends and colleagues recommend.
So whereas youd expect to see different results in Google compared to searches made by someone on the other side of the world, youre quite likely now to see different results to someone on the other side of your office.
Monitoring tools – which show you a notional position in Google for a particular search – are still useful, but the results shouldnt be taken as a universal truth. Our own reporting service, for our Insider Programme members, developed this year into what we call the BMON Google Competitor Performance Report. We now concentrate on using it to see how your site appears to be performing against your competitors. Its probably the most useful thing we can do.