5 Main Factors Why Doing a Google Search Doesn't Provide Real Ranking Results

On Jan. 17, 2024 / By Rocio Mancia

A common question or concern from clients and businesses is, why am I not #1 on the 1st page or on the 1st page at all when I do a search on Google?
It might seem a question that requires a simple answer, such as “we are not doing our job”.
But answering how Google ranks your website or your business in order to come up on the first page when someone searches for your products, services, or industry is a lot more complex. There are many factors that affect SERP (search engine results page).

As much as your audience expects you to continue education and development in your field, we do the same. We stay on top of merging markets, AI technology, and global changes. Old SEO, print marketing and other traditional marketing tactics are a thing of the past. We want to educate you and we're here to help you and provide you with tangible effective results!

Some of the ranking factors that affect SERP (search engine results page) are:

1. Proximity and Density

PROXIMITY has two aspects that affect search results: 

  • Proximity Outside Boundaries. If you do a search outside of city boundaries, Google has a defined City Center for each city on the map.
    Google will take into consideration the distance of your business location to what Google considers to be the city center. And if other businesses are closer to the city center, they will outrank you because Google will provide you with results depending on how far or close your business is to the city center. If you perform a search outside of the city boundaries where your business is located and then from your office, the SERP results will be different even when you use keywords such as your zip code or the name of a city.
  • The Proximity of the Searcher. Doing a search from your office using keywords such as “near me” or “near by” such as, “pizzeria near me” or “pizzeria near by” will give you different results than when you do the same search from another location even if you are within the same zip code or city because Google will take the IP address of your device and the GPS location of your mobile.
The whitten area shows the city boundaries of the City of Chicago, IL in Google Maps

Entering your zip code doesn't provide the true SERP results - organic and paid.

  • DENSITY. Whether or not your location is enabled on your browser and/or device, when searching for your industry in a competitor-dense area, your organic and paid results are always affected by different factors, one of them being the competitor’s density in your area.
Therefore, two search results could be completely different depending on how many competitors are located within your area and where you are doing the search from, even when it’s being done within the same zip code. This is especially true in industries with many competitors within a small dense area.

2. Location Boundaries and Service-Area and Hybrid Businesses

Location Boundaries. This refers to the city boundaries of the city where your business is physically located. E.g. Doctor’s offices. 

Service-Area and Hybrid Businesses. If your business doesn’t have a physical address and instead visits customers or clients at their location, Google may consider you a service-area type of business. Therefore, Google will allow you to add up to 20 service areas which can be either zip codes or city names. Hybrid businesses is a business that accepts clients/customers at its physical address, but also directly visits or delivers to customers/clients.

If you are performing a search outside of your location boundaries or your service-areas, it will be a lot more difficult to get accurate ranking using city-related keywords when doing a search. This is due to GPS, proximity, density, and location boundaries, service-area factors used by Google algorithms. And this is why you can see other businesses with zero reviews showing up on your search results and outranking you.

It is also true that local search results within large cities or states such as Chicago, Miami, IL, MA, CA, etc. are less likely to show reliable and accurate results than searches in smaller and less dense areas while using filters such as keywords, long-tail keywords, a zip code, or a neighborhood’s name. However, these results do not provide a substantial reason to base your optimization decisions on. 

The denser and/or larger the geographical area is, the more budget you will need to invest on paid advertising, SEO (search engine optimization) efforts, and AI tools to come up on the first page of SERP.

These factors make it impossible to be able to track your Google Maps ranking accurately in order to understand your geographical reach if you decide to check from a single spot such as your home or outside of the zip codes where you want your business to rank on the 1st page of the SERP.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The generation of paid and organic results of a search query utilizes additional algorithms, AI technology, and other factors mentioned below to generate search results.  

3. Personalized Settings such as: Web and App Activity, Location Settings and Privacy Settings at the Device-level and Browser-level

Personalized Settings. Are you logged in to your Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook account? If you are, what are the privacy and safety settings in your account? These settings help Google to provide better results catered to the searcher’s needs. 

  • Web and App Activity – Other email features such as Web and App Activity include Browser History which gathers additional data, even when your location history is turned off. Turning on Web and App Activity will help Google provide you with more relevant and accurate results.
  • Incognito Mode. If you are signed into an account or website in incognito mode, your browsing can still keep track. Incognito only works if you are NOT signed into a Google Account. On the other hand, if you use incognito browsing and sign out of your Google account, Google won’t be able to provide you with accurate local search ranking results from a search query.
  • Location Settings and Privacy and Safety Settings at the Device-Level

Your device location and privacy and safety settings on your device may also affect your search results. Even when you aren’t signed into a Google account, website or any other app, these settings might still affect your results, because again, they are located on your device (laptop, desktop, mobile, or tablet), and not at the browser-level.

  • Location Settings and Privacy/Safety Settings at the Browser-Level

Likewise, if you are using a different search engine on your device when you do a search, you need to check if your location, privacy and/or security settings are enabled at the browser-level.

Important note: Turning off all or any of the settings mentioned above will prevent Google from providing you with personalized results based on your Google profile preferences. However, doing so, won’t provide you with accurate ranking results for your search query either since there are so many other factors that Google and other search engines take into consideration in order to provide accurate data.

4. Technical and Scientific Ranking Factors

AI technology not only relies on your location, or search engines’ algorithms, which by the way, vary per search engine and device. It also relies on neuroscience and psychology, including human behavior, science, competitive programming, Machine Learning, or Large Models (MLs) which are generative systems trained on billions of data.
Google continues to stay at the top with about 80% – 90% of the search market share by acquiring DeepMind in 2014. DeepMind is an AI technology company located in England that manages research, science, neuroscience, engineering, applied science and other fields to deliver accurate information. This acquisition allows Google to continue to have market dominion.
As a come back, Microsoft, in its recent attempt to throw Google out, in May 2020, acquired ChatGPT, now, GPT-3, making it available for free to users, which is a faster chat AI (ads free for now) database with billions of data available to do any kind of search. As the battle continues, DuckDuckGo rapidly emerged and gained market share based on privacy and safety settings as a strategy.

Regardless of who is at the top, AI technology allows us to:

It allows search engines, apps or any other platform or device to learn every click you give, every “move you make”, every device in the market, and their relevance to the searcher. AI has been studying and learning (and continues to learn) human behavior, intentions and it knows who the searcher is based on information they input, technology, algorithms, and many external and internal factors of the searcher. AI technology is complex and very advanced.

WOW Connections counts with a professional dedicated team to provide SEO services while applying extensive human knowledge and expertise with the aid of AI technology and generative systems to provide effective results and position you on the 1st page of SERP.

Additionally, a keyword ranking changes weekly and sometimes, it can change daily. Keywords can go from extremely relevant to not at-all relevant rapidly. Trends, culture, local and global events, and changes in the economy, among many other external factors, influence how people feel and behave, as well as what they think.

Machine learning technology knows how to detect behaviors based on multiple massive data. For instance, it answers questions such as, How long does someone stay on your page? What is their behavior? What are they looking for on your website? Its goal is to know what the user on the other end is thinking, intentions and behavior to provide accurate results. 

  1. Technical ranking factors are split between:
    • Crawl ranking factor, which means how easy is for Google to discover your most important URL
    • Index ranking factor, is a variable that Google uses to understand your information and decide the best relevant indexed results for a search query.
  2. Content – as part of our marketing strategy, we know Google wants relevant content, and we know how to create content that is relevant to your target audience.
  3. Links or backlinks – this refers to links to other sites and authority websites such as YouTube or other social media networks, which are implemented when we create your website design and are updated whenever is needed depending on the marketing package you have with us.

When we build your website, we make sure it is optimized at the moment your website is designed and finalized. But optimization doesn't stop there; that is only the beginning. SEO is fluent and changes rapidly along with new technology, scientific advancements, and changes in the laws and regulations that govern the internet.

5. Search Frequency

The more you search for your own industry, product, or service using any keyword to find out your ranking, the more inaccurate your results will be, and eventually you might not see your business at all.
This is due to the fact that there are so many advanced and complex factors such as AI technology and algorithms constantly changing, making it impossible to find out your real SERP ranking with a simple search query. 
We combine AI technology with human analysis, expertise, and knowledge. We are constantly training, monitoring, and applying new AI technology, human expertise, implementing marketing strategies and tactics to provide the best SEO and marketing services. 
Our SEO advanced services include monitoring all of the factors mentioned above in order to create content, use the correct words and keywords with extremely relevant with the aid of AI technology to achieve high ranking on the first page of the SERP.
The amount of time, human expertise, and effort provided while working behind the scenes is tremendous.
We have specialized team members dedicated to SEO services only. 
These services are integrated with the marketing and advertising services we provide.
Let’s meet and talk about what other service implementation we can provide for a more in depth and effective SEO services.

WOW Connections provides effective SEO services. Our specialized professional team is eager to work with you to implement the next phase of SEO strategies and tactics integrated with your targeted marketing plan to deliver the best ranking results. Let us help you! We are ready!

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