SEO rankings are the most crucial aspect of any website, and this is no secret. We often talk about factors that affect these rankings and what you can do to retain them. But have you ever wondered if incognito searches impact your SEO rankings?
This is an excellent topic with so much to unpack. This blog will discuss what incognito search is and how it works. What is CTR, and whether or not it impacts search rankings in any way?
In order to answer this, first, we need to discuss what incognito mode does and what actions really impact our site rankings.
We are all aware that there are hundreds of ranking factors that Google takes into account. Now, among these factors, there is some crucial information that Google can obtain from your web browser.
When you perform a search, the search engine knows what country or language you have set your browser to, your location, and your search history, too, if you have a Google cookie set.
All these factors actually help the search engines present more relevant search results for your query, and this explains why you may get a different search result set than some other user performing the same search.
If you repeatedly perform a particular search and keep clicking on the same result every time, Google (and other search engines) will recognize this action and start displaying that specific result higher for that particular search. And that’s beneficial. Why? Because tons of users use search navigationally even today. For example, they will enter Facebook in Google instead of typing facebook.com directly into their web browser.
If you are searching for something (such as a restaurant in Toronto) that has a local sense, search engines can use your location to present relevant results along with a map pack. Likewise, if you search for a business, whether or not the map pack pops up (and where it pops up for you) can rely on how far you are from it.
What Incognito Mode Actually Does?
While Google has a whole textbook about how private browsing works, we will give you a rundown on the pivotal points here.
The primary goal of incognito mode is to conceal your browsing history from other persons using the same device. However, it does not anonymize you wholly. For that purpose, you will need a VPN or TOR software, unsecured wifi, etc., all of which exceed the scope of this blog post.
Getting back to the point, when you are browsing the web in incognito mode, there is still plenty of information that search engines can know about you, including your location, IP address, and anything you sign in to throughout that session.
As discussed above, this implies that search engines can still display custom results for you depending on your location, IP address, etc.
This is also the reason why the same result shows up higher when many users perform a particular search. That’s because all the people are in the same place using the same IP address, and Google is customizing the results to your countless searches made in the past, and the search engine is doing that on the basis of your location and IP address instead of cookies.
Do Searches Impact Rankings?
Let’s get to the essence of our topic – do searches impact rankings?
If you observe it carefully, you will realize that part of this question approaches the topic of rankings and CTR.
While we touched on this earlier in this post, it’s time to deal with it head-on. According to Google, the click-through rate (CTR) isn’t a ranking factor in its typical ranking algorithm. By this, what Google really wants to say is that when you remove personalization, history, and other similar stuff, the search engine does not use CTR in their algorithm.
Still confused about what this means? Don’t worry; you are not alone!
This means that Google might use CTR to personalize results for your search queries based on your past behavior, but none of your clicks are going to affect the ranking positions for the others.
Now you might be wondering what about the patents and other statements?
That’s where there is too much SEO confusion.
While Google might not use the click-through rate as a substantial ranking factor, there are still numerous valid uses for it.
For instance, if they are A/B testing the variants of the search algorithm, the click-through rate actually seems to be an ideal metric to consider to find out which results sets are better.
Similarly, if the search engine sees that the map pack they are bringing up for a certain type of query is not receiving any clicks, they might decide to stop displaying the map pack for such queries anymore.
In addition to this, Google might also use CTR to ascertain the best position to display the “People Also Ask” box or other similar features.
So it all comes down to two crucial questions:
- Does Google use the click-through rate? – Undoubtedly, yes.
- Does Google use it the way SEO professionals think it does? – Absolutely, no.
Thus, you can keep clicking on your results or have others do it for you as much as you want; it won’t affect your search rankings at all.
Nevertheless, within local search features, these things seem to work. Black hat SEOs often use multiple devices to click on stuff like local map packs and drive around. But within general search, these things mean nothing. Also, you don’t want to get into black hat SEO, and there is no way we can emphasize this enough.
Wrapping It Up
We would like to conclude this post by answering the initial question – does incognito mess with your SEO rankings or any of the things discussed above? – No. It does not impact these things, at least not in any substantial manner that you need to worry about. We hope this blog has helped clear things up regarding how incognito actually works and how Google may or may not use the click-through rate.