SEO Tip #60: Are Google SERPs the Same on All Browsers?

Matt Cutts: The answer is usually they do but not in all situations. So let me give you a couple of situations where it could differ.

Personalization is based on who we think you are. So if you’re logged in vs. not logged in that might make a difference. Maybe you’re logged in on one browser and you’re not logged in on another.

Another thing that might make a difference is sometimes different browsers support different functionality. So even though the search results didn’t change, last year we were using AJAX to sort of return very fast search results on Firefox and Internet Explorer didn’t really have the support for that that we would like.

So Internet Explorer eventually got that support but for a while if you searched on Firefox you’d get the results in sort of this fast AJAX form, whereas Internet Explorer would do the conventional sort of way that we would return search results. That typically wouldn’t vary the search results but in theory it’s possible.

The last thing would be if you might be in what we call Bucket testing. Now that sounds really unflattering you know, “Where’s my bucket? What’s this bucket doing on my head?” So think of it like Cookie testing.

Different browsers depending on when you visit Google might get different cookies, especially if you didn’t log in. And Google is always running relatively small, it could be a large absolute number, amounts of tests on users as they’re using Google.

So for example, we just rolled out a new way of presenting our search results pages. Whenever you were using Google you might have gotten into this Cookie test or Bucket test to see those new search results.

So depending on which browser you’re hitting, whether you’re logged in or not, which cookies you have, all that sort of stuff, you might get slightly different testing done on the search results. And that could include different algorithms.

So while the vast majority of the time when you’re doing a search on Firefox, Internet Explorer, or my personal favorite, which is Chrome, you’ll get the same search results, it is possible to have different search results between different browsers.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.