How many times have we caught ourselves deciding to ‘Just Google it!’. Well, personally, all the time for a lot of things. Google does seem to know it all. We are not just referring to how Google can give us information on almost every topic out there or help us buy basically anything we want. It also knows everything we search about on its platform and even when, where, and how we search for information. This is not the end of it, because since Google seems to know us quite well, it also gives us very personalised search results, across our devices and browsers. It means that SERPs across browsers and devices will be different for us and as well as from that of others. The question then boils down to ‘why does this happen?’.

This isn’t one of those tech things that we cannot understand! Google can work in mysterious ways, but we can uncover some part of that mystery. A couple of factors come into play as to why SERP’s may differ across browsers and for different users. The 4 key factors are discussed below:

1. DEVICE TYPE- Mobile vs Desktop

mobile vs desktop_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne

Ever googled the same thing on your desktop and mobile but saw a slight difference in the SERPs? That is actually quite common and happens irrespective of devices and accounts being synced. While our SERPs will obviously be different from that of others, there are a lot of times that our SERPs will have subtle differences among our own personal devices. This is thanks to Google’s cookies. Cookies are out there to track your history, and mobile and desktop cookies actually do not work in the same manner, leading to varied results. Interesting?

We all know Google is extremely focused on providing us with the best user experience. This is why SERPs differ across devices as when you are using a mobile phone Google wants to make sure that the results (websites) are mobile-friendly. It would make it much easier for us to carry on with our search as compared to the situation wherein we are provided with a website that is not mobile optimised. Indeed, it is all part of Google’s algorithm. 

Take a look at images 1, 2, and 3 to see the differences in SERPs across browsers on mobile and desktop.

SERPs on mobile for chrome_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 1: SERPs for ‘online classes’ using the browser Chrome on a mobile
SERPs on browser Firefox on laptop_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 2: SERPs for ‘online classes’ using the browser Firefox on a laptop
SERPs on browser Chrome on laptop_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 3: SERPs for ‘online classes’ using the browser Chrome on a laptop

What companies need to understand here is that when devising SEO strategies, having dedicated ones for different devices is key, so that your company is there when customers are ready to make that enquiry or purchase.

2. SEARCH HISTORY

search history example_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne

Like we said, Google does seem to know it all! And for Google to know that, you do not even need to log into your accounts. Your search history is like gold. It helps Google be very personalised, which is because cookies are at play here! While many of us do have privacy concerns about Google collecting personal data, many prefer highly personalised and tailored SERPs. It helps us save time and efforts, which is great!

How does your history then impact SERPs across browsers? Fact is your search history across all browsers will never be the same, because you aren’t going around searching the same thing on Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Because browsers have your history saved, they know what you are looking for and give you personalised and relevant results in relation to your history on that browser, even though you might be using google.com across them all. And since many of us have that one preferred browser, it is bound to know us better. While we are on the topic, Chrome being Google’s very own product means that Google has greater control over personalisation of your SERPs. It is these little things that make a difference.

Take a look at images 4, 5, and 6 to see how SERPs change across browsers, when a search is done in a commonly used browser with previous search history saved (Chrome) vs when a search is done without any history saved on Firefox and Safari, for the same user.

SERPs on browser chrome with saved history_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 4: SERPs for ‘women shopping’ on browser Chrome with previous search history saved
SERPs on browser Firefox with no history_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 5: SERPs for ‘women shopping’ on browser Firefox with no previous search history
SERPs on browser Safari with no history_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 6: SERPs for ‘women shopping’ on browser Safari with no previous search history

3. LOCATION

Google location_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne

Not to state the obvious but location does impact your SERPs. ‘Cafes near me’ are not going to be the same for Newtown in Sydney vs St. Kilda in Melbourne. But that is not it! Even in the same location, SERPs for local places across browsers can be different. Again, the answer to why this is so is probably because your browser stores your history and knows where you’ve been or your exact location!

There are also instances where your SERPs across countries for generic topics such as climate change can vary due to the overall beliefs of the public and the point of view of those in power. Surprising but true!

Take a look at images 7, 8, and 9 to see how Google knowing your location can give you different SERPs.

SERPs on browser Chrome for exact location_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 7: SERPs for ‘gyms’ when Chrome knows the exact location and previous search history
SERPs on browser Firefox with estimated location_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 8: SERPs for ‘gyms’ when Firefox has an estimate of user’s location
SERPs on browser Safari with estimated location_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne
Image 9: SERPs for ‘gyms’ when Safari has an estimate of user’s location

4. PREVIOUSLY CLICKED ON LINKS

previously clicked link image_SERPs across browsers_SEO Melbourne

Have you clicked repeatedly on certain websites over and over again when looking for some particular kind of information? Probably yes, and Google is of course taking note of that pattern. That’s why when you search for something in your preferred browser repeatedly, certain websites rank higher for you than others. Interestingly, this is why many companies may see their website rank higher for themselves on a particular browser.

OVERALL,

The common theme here is the fact that Google knows and analyses your searches to understand your patterns and preferences. Cookies play a key role, one that cannot be overlooked. But cookies and data collection does not work the same way across browsers. Since we all have our preferred browsers and devices to search from, our SERPs will vary across browsers and also from that of others! 

Can we do anything about this? Not much! But it is interesting to understand why it happens. Companies need to know this because it plays a key role in their SEO strategies. There is no one size fits all when it comes to SEO. Needless to say, another brand’s strategy will not work for you but you also need your own strategy for different devices.

To get a better understanding of how SERPs can differ across browsers and how you can utilise different improvements and enhancements to improve your SERPs, do not hesitate to contact SEO Melbourne.

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