Why Do I See My Business in a Different Ranking Position on Google vs in Local Falcon?

March 5th, 2024, 09:00 AM

From time to time here at Local Falcon, we get a question from a user something along the lines of "why do I see my business in a different position on Google than what I see in Local Falcon?"

There are a few different reasons you might see a different ranking on Google vs Local Falcon, so we wanted to take a minute to put together a quick blog post about the topic to clear up any confusion.

Reason #1: Different Rankings for General Keywords vs Geo-Tagged Keywords

One of the most common reasons people get confused about their ranking on Google is because they're searching for geo-tagged keywords and comparing their position on Google to the ranking they see in Local Falcon for a general keyword, or vice versa.

This confusion stems from the fact that a general keyword, like "dentist," and a geo-tagged keyword, like "dentist Seattle WA," are actually two completely different keywords, and thus a business will have totally different rankings for them.

So, if you're looking at your ranking in Local Falcon for the keyword "dentist Seattle WA," you're likely going to see a much higher Average Ranking Position than where you see your business on Google if you just search for "dentist." 

This is because when you search using keywords with geo modifiers Google eliminates a large number of results that are outside the geographic area searched for.

Likewise, if you're looking at your local ranking score for a general keyword like "dentist," but searching Google for "dentist Seattle WA," you're probably going to see your business in a much higher position on Google than the score you're comparing it to in Local Falcon.

Reason #2: Google Gives Personalized Results

If you're sure that you're looking at the local ranking score and searching Google for the exact same keyword, yet you're still seeing different results, there's another simple explanation: Google shows personalized results to each user, so what you see on Google Search may be very different from what the standard user sees.

For example, Google frequently shows biased search results if you're searching for your own business, especially if you're searching from at the business address — what you see on Google while performing a search from within your business's office is going to be different from what a nearby user sees when they search using the same keyword.

Alternatively, if you're searching for your business from a completely different location, such as a far away neighborhood or even another town or city, you're again going to see completely different results from what the average user in your business's neighborhood or service area sees when they perform the same search.

Other factors, such as your personal search history, can also influence the rankings you see on Google Search. So, if you're constantly searching Google for your own business using the same keywords, you're more likely to see it in a higher ranking position than where other people see it when performing local searches.

On the other hand, Local Falcon's rank tracker shows unbiased SERP ranking results, which are representative of what the average user sees when they perform a search using a particular keyword in a specific geographic area (determined by the Map Scan Radius and Grid Size).

Because of the tendency of Google to show biased search results, you should never rely on Google to check your local ranking. Instead, trust the results you see in Local Falcon to provide you with reliable data. 

If you want to accurately see how your ranking changes in different areas, it's simply a matter of changing Radius and Grid Size or dragging the center point of the scan to another area on the map.

Reason #3: You're Searching at a Different Time

The last reason you might be seeing your business in a different position on Google vs in Local Falcon is that you're performing a search right now and comparing it to ranking data from some time in the past. 

Local rankings are highly dynamic, and can even change throughout the day. In other words, searching at different times of day can give you different search results. 

In fact, Google recently confirmed that "openness," or whether a business is currently open at the time a local search is performed, has become a stronger ranking factor. This means that if you search for a business when it's closed, it may appear in a lower position on Google than if you search for it when it's open.

If you want to see how "openness" affects your local ranking, you can test for open hours as a ranking factor using Local Falcon.

The Bottom Line

Any discrepancy between your business's position on Google and in Local Falcon can be attributed to several factors. 

Firstly, the use of different keywords — general vs geo-tagged — will yield completely different results. Google's personalized search results further contribute to this disparity, showing biased rankings based on individual search histories and locations.

Additionally, relying on outdated local ranking data or searching at different times of the day can also lead to differences in what you see on Google. 

To avoid any conclusion, always defer to Local Falcon for unbiased, representative rankings that reflect the average user's experience.

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