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Analytics 7 min read

5 Reasons Why Positions In Google's SERP Are Different From What You See In Rank Tracker

5 Reasons Why Positions In Google's SERP Are Different From What You See In Rank Tracker
Elena K.
Elena K.
Chief Editor at Serpstat
"Why does rank tracker say that my website is on 8th position when it's really on 5th?" – this is a common question among those who use rank trackers.

There's a number of reasons why domain's positions in Google's SERP are different from what you see in rank tracker. Today we'll tell why it happens and show you how to check your domain's real position.

Personalized search results

Google always tracks their user's actions online, which means it shows different results to different users. When you hit the search button, Google will use information from your search history to create a personalized SERP. It includes, but is not limited to, the following factors:

  • What websites you have visited;
  • How long have you stayed on those websites;
  • What were searching for on Google previously;
  • What is your current location.

Your personalized results heavily depend on the factors listed above and since these factors are unique for all users, search results may differ for different users.

If you want to keep your search results "clean" you can disable personalized search by changing settings of a search engine.

Simply go to Google preferences and set it not to show Private Results:
Google search private results settings
Or you can go to settings just under ther search bar and hide private results. It's a great way if you need to turn on/off private results regularly.

Alternatively, you can clean your cache and use incognito mode (Ctrl+Shift+N), this way Google also will not show the personalized search results page.
google search results change cause
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Search region

Search engines show different results, depending on your physical location. IP-address is usually used to determine your region and different search volume for keywords may be shown if regions settings don't match.

It can happen that Serpstat's rank tracker collects data from region #1 and you try to verify it by checking the SERPs in region #2.

How to check the region settings? If you're using Chrome or Safari browser, look something up on Google and scroll to the bottom of the page. Your region will be shown there:
Google search specific location
If your region isn't shown correctly, you can try refreshing the page or click on Use Precise Location. To lookup search results for a region different from your location, you can use Google's ads preview tool.

You can set any location you want and see how the SERP looks like in that location for your desired keyword.
Google Ad preview
Checking the region in Serpstat's keyword rank checker is simple, it's always shown at the top of positions page:
Serpstat Rank Tracker positions distribution.
You set the country, region and language when creating a project. If you want to change the region, you can always go to the project's settings and choose the one you need.
Serpstat tracking positions search regions

Search filters

Every user can setup a search engine to show only the search results that fit certain requirements. For example, you can limit search results by the time of update and its relevance.

If you use any of these filters, your search results will obviously differ from results rank tracking services show.

To add or remove such filter, click on the Search Tools button above the search results and use the drop-down menus to set search parameters. If there are no filters applied, then you'll see the following:
Google SERP settings
To remove filters click on Clear button (It will appear only in case when filters are applied).
How to remove filters for Google search results page

Typos

Search engines are pretty good at recognizing various types of grammatical and other mistakes, and usually show results for the correct form of query. But sometimes users ignore notifications from search engines, or type in a query that search engine doesn't recognize as an error or if both versions are correct:
Example of misspeling
That's why always make sure that you're using the exact same query that you've added to the rank tracker when checking the SERP tracking manually.

SERP updates

Search engine databases are constantly updated. There may be a time difference between your manual checking, rank tracking service update and search engine update. This problem is very common for news outlets, where positions for a keyword change by hours rather than days, that's why SEO keyword research is important:
Iphone release SERP example

FAQ. Common questions about Google SERP

Does Google search results vary location?

Yes, search engines show different results, depending on your physical location. IP-address is usually used to determine your region and different search volume for keywords may be shown if regions settings don't match.

Why do my search results look different?

You could see different search results because of: personalized search results, different search regions, search filters, SERP updates etc.

Summary

There are 5 common reasons for the difference in data you get from a rank tracking tool for on-page SEO and data you get from checking the SERP manually:
1
Personalized search results;
2
Search filters;
3
Serp updates;
4
Search region;
5
Typos.
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