I was watching this video on the Google Webmaster Central Channel, where Matt Cutts answers a question about the impact of server location on Google’s rankings, and he touched on an important point, which I hadn’t noticed until I spent a few months in Romania. In the video, he says that Google will return different search results based on which Google site you visit. For example, if you go to Google.com and type in “bank”, you’ll get different search results than if you go to Google.com.au and type in “bank”.
Back in January, when I arrived in Romania, I noticed the same thing. I Googled myself while in Romania, only to find out I was no longer the first search result that came up for my name at Google.ro or at Google.com. I thought that was odd at the time, because doing the same thing while in the US yielded the expected result. It never occurred to me that Google would yield different search results for each country, although that makes perfect sense now.
Here’s the interesting part though. As I spent more time in Romania, writing and publishing to this site, whose server is in the US, from Romania, the order of the search results for my name at Google.ro and Google.com changed. One day, I googled myself and noticed my name came up first, just like it did in the US. So, Google somehow learned — and I’m not sure how they did it — that I was writing from Romania, or that I was in Romania, and figured out that returning my site as the first search result for my name in Romania was the relevant thing to do. If nothing else, it reveals some of the complexity behind Google’s search algorithms and earns my respect.