Google Search Results: What Factors Impact Your Ranking?

Google Search Results: What Factors Impact Your Ranking?

Search engines have changed the way we buy products and find services. Our first instinct when we need something is to search online or “Google it.” Studies show we rarely go beyond the first page of results, giving the top companies listed higher website traffic and sales. Think about it, how often do you venture past the first page listings?

So how can I get my website to show up on Google, you may ask.

There are two ways to have a listing on the first page of Google. These are organic search results and paid ads. We’ll focus only on organic search for this post, though paid ads are beneficial as well.

On a Search engine results page (SERP), the first 3 or 4 results are ads. You will see a yellow box that says ad, then you may see a map listing. This is generated from Google maps and business listings. Below the map you will see the organic listings.

Understanding Google’s process of ranking search results can be challenging, especially since the algorithm for producing relevant results is ever evolving. But, here are a few key pieces to the puzzle.

Google uses hundreds of signals, or ranking factors, to display their organic search results. These signals determine where your webpage shows up for a given search result. Some examples you may have heard of are the content on your webpage, keywords and links from other sites.

Google search results will vary depending on a number of factors. A few of these are:


Depending on where someone is located when they search Google, the listings may appear in a different order, or they may see different webpages than someone searching from another geographical location.

Previous Search History

When you use the same device or are signed into a Google account, your past search activity is logged and used to determine results in future searches. Google wants to show the user what is most relevant to them so they use past search history as a clue to show a page related to both topics.

Order of Words in Search Query

The order of words searched can change the search results, even for the same user in the same location. Consider this example we searched: “Lafayette lawyer”, then “lawyer Lafayette.” As you can see, the majority of results are the same, but the order of a few has changed. It is important to consider the order of your keywords.

Example 1 of Google Organic Search Results
"Lafayette lawyer" results
Example 2 of Google Organic Search Results
"lawyer Lafayette" results

Device Used - Mobile vs. Desktop

In April 2015, Google released a major search ranking algorithm update many people called Mobilegeddon. This update gave more weight to mobile optimized sites. If your site was mobile friendly, your ranking may have moved higher on mobile searches. While if it was not, chances are you saw a drop in position. A responsive website, or a website that fits a desktop, tablet OR mobile device, can achieve higher mobile ranking.

Your site’s search ranking can change several times a day and will certainly differ to each user. The best way to improve your organic rankings is to invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Even with variations, a well-optimized site can show up at the top of the listings.