First there was Personalization now there is Localization. Google wants to do all your thinking for you. They now categorize you by search history and location. Then they provide you with the results that they feel are most relevant to you.
Personalization occurs based on web history. It occurs both logged in and logged out unless you specify otherwise. So Google search results are based on your profile. Check out info in your Google profile https://www.google.com/history/?hl=en So let’s say that you are a raving Bulwark fan. You search for Bulwark pest control a couple of times and soon enough, you only need to search for pest control and Bulwark comes up on top based on your search history. Personalization based on search history. As far as profiling you, Google further looks at what you like or dislike and serves up results. So two visitors search for titans, the History Geek will get mythology and the Football Fanatic will get an NFL team. But it’s easy enough to turn off your web history.
Last year Google began offering local search results in the form of a map listings. Google determines local intent to buy based on the searches. Someone looking for a dentist is most likely wanting to find a dentist nearby. So local search was born. Last year the local results were only really found in the maps, but recently Google moved beyond just the maps to the organic results as well. Now when Google deems your search to have local intent, the first few results prior to the maps seem to stay consistent but the results following the maps differ based on users IP address or users chosen location, and this occurs without personalization based on web history or website preferences. And this occurs automatically without users consent.
Both of the following had the same search term: Pest Control
Now watch the organics 4 to 10 change.
Perhaps not a big deal to many, but this does change up monitoring results. If I am using a Seattle based SEO team and they tell me I am #15 for pest control without personalization, they are missing the fact that I am #15 for pest control based on a search from Seattle. If you are automating reports, the IP of the search software tracking the positions will now greatly alter the results.
Moreover, the guys at the top of the pile just got a bump in the value of their positions because the localization is joining both the maps and organics…. and with the advent of Google Instant and the increase of impressions you’ll get at the top… Prime Real Estate Just Went Up in Value!
…and the Phoenix localization for “pest control” does not give the same results as a “Phoenix pest control” search.
So position trending, and traffic fluctuation is now even more difficult to track. Plus, it may be even easier to grab a top vanity keyword with a local map than optimizing for Geo targeted keywords. Interesting stuff is brewing at Google.