Local search from mobile via wifi vs. via cellular data


djbaxter

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One of my clients has posed the following puzzle:

She is a psychologist in downtown Vancouver B.C. seeing different results depending in mobile phone searches on whether she searches using her cellular data plan or tethered to a wifi source. From a desktop, she is in the 3-pack for several search terms but gets more varied and less consistent results from mobile.

She reports this:

When I check for these key words, here is where I am on my Telus network (wifi) vs cellular:

vancouver psychologists..... 8th for telus network, 3 for cellular
vancouver psychologist.......18 for telus network, 3 for cellular
psychologists vancouver...... 9 for telus network, 3 for cellular
psychologist vancouver ........6 for telus network and 3 for cellular
The other relevant factor is that the mobile searches were done not from her office in downtown Vancouver but from her home in West Vancouver.

What surprises me is how consistent the non-wifi searches are for her.

Thoughts?
 

djbaxter

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She repeated the tests.

From the Office (downotwn Vancouver) the Telus network

Vancouver Psychologists 18 with wifi, 3 with cellular
Vancouver Psychologist 7 with wifi, 3 with cellular
Psychologists Vancouver 9 with wifi, 3 with cellular
Psychologist Vancouver 6 with wifi, 3 with cellular

From one street a block away from the office:

Vancouver Psychologists 18 with wifi, 3 with cellular
Vancouver Psychologist 7 with wifi, 3 with cellular
Psychologists Vancouver 9 with wifi, 3 with cellular
Psychologist Vancouver 7 with wifi, with cellular
So the differences hold even without the big disparity in location within the city.
 

Cherie Dickey

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How strange... I wonder if her phone is somehow connected to a VPN while using wifi. If it is, then Google may not be judging her proximity to Vancouver correctly. I know some carriers are moving toward more proactive encryption methods such as Sprint's Secure Wi-Fi, which act similar to a VPN... Maybe that's what's going on? It's my best guess anyway, haha
 

MirageLimo

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Could it be a personalization thing? Her phone may think she wants that result. Try someone else's phone? Just guessing.
 

JoshuaMackens

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It seems like it would just be the difference in how closely Google can track her exact location. WiFi vs Cellular data would more than likely provide different locations. On Google search for some reason Google thinks I'm always in Kennesaw Georgia and I'm actually like 500 miles away from that location. I think I passed through there once...
 

djbaxter

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On Google search for some reason Google thinks I'm always in Kennesaw Georgia and I'm actually like 500 miles away from that location. I think I passed through there once...
You can see that with IP tracking too, where sometimes it tracks you to the head office. Most of the time I show up in Ottawa but occasionally IP trackers will show me in Toronto, the head office for my ISP (also my wifi provider).

I'm still waiting to get the answers to questions posed above but if it were showing cellular as LESS accurate or LESS consistent that would make more sense to me - but it's the other way around.
 

JoshuaMackens

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You can see that with IP tracking too, where sometimes it tracks you to the head office. Most of the time I show up in Ottawa but occasionally IP trackers will show me in Toronto, the head office for my ISP (also my wifi provider).

I'm still waiting to get the answers to questions posed above but if it were showing cellular as LESS accurate or LESS consistent that would make more sense to me - but it's the other way around.
I think it actually makes sense. The ranking is even across the board for cellular, which means to me Google doesn't really know where to show you so they're showing you general rankings which would give more consistent results. This falls in line with my example of Google having no idea where I'm located on cellular.

On wifi, they know exactly where you are so the results are more granular. Also, you may have other people's click behavior on the wifi affecting the results?

Thoughts?
 

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