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searching on http://www.yahoo.it for villa matrimonio bologna I noticed Yahoo shows different results. You need to retry few times to get this done maybe exiting the browser and openeing it again, or maybe searching once and then clearing browser cookies and then search again (it's even easier to test if you use two different browsers at the same time to search for the same phrase).

Anyway in order to reproduce this easily I write down here the query shown in the address bar after the search, so you can just click on these to see the results shown by entering these query:

Note the last parameter fr is different, but it's Yahoo that set it (not me), I don't even know what it means.

You can see in the search box that the searched phrase is IDENTICAL in both cases.

So why Yahoo is giving out different results on same search phrase?

I used the same browser and performed the test in few minutes by simply trying more than once.

You may also notice that the number of results returned (written on the left side of the page) is different, for the 1st search it returns 274K results, for the 2nd one 5.38M results.

Actually you might think that this is just an error on Yahoo, but it's almost 1 year that while looking once in a while at some websites to see how they are ranking on Yahoo and also Google, I noticed that two searches on the same phrase show up different results even on the same day after few minutes/hours. I couldn't reproduce this behaviour also on Google so I can not say for sure, but since it seems to me it happened sometimes I was wondering if anyone of you noticed it too.

Do you know if this is the normal behaviour of search engines? Because if it's normal (and it's just me that noticed it only now) I wonder how do you understand how well a site is ranking on a search engine, you could even see one of your customer's website ranking differently compared to what your customer sees on his PC.

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3 Answers

I think you've already hit on the meaning of the fr tag: Might it give a "from" location?

The yfp in the first one could mean "Yahoo! front page."

I did it from the search bar in the upper right of my Firefox browser and the fr tag came out moz35.

What other places did you do your search?

So, Yahoo! may be giving different search results based on where it's searched from. Why? Have no idea!

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Search engines do not guaranty anything about the ordering of results. But they do try to be as relevant as possible which is why the top results tend to be fairly consistent.

For Google, there are some known influences which is going to depend on your perceived location, certain cookies and if you are logged into a Google property/account. Location has the biggest influence and may give you almost completely different results for some queries.

There is also some randomness. As you probably guessed, Google uses more than one computer to handle search engine requests. Depending on which ones respond, the answer will be slightly different as they are constantly updated, so they are not 100% in sync 100% of the time.

You may also be randomly selected to be part of a Google experiment which is kind-of a tweak of the search engine that is tested on a subset of queries to gather statistics on the effectiveness of whichever aspect is being changed.

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It is the searching algorithm which is responsible for the different result. Same search quesry at the same instance from the same place by the same computer might produce the different result. Seems like search engine like Google/Yahoo/Bing is tracking your behaviour of activity on internet. Internet is no more searching for data for what world is looking for.. Internet is much more personalised now.

"I am not guessing", I am sure about this statement because I have watched the presentation on this search behaviour on www.ted.com ( Go into the technical section and you will able to see that video [It's a presentation by the creator of facebook{I am not sure with his name, may be Mark Z...}] , I can not give the url for that video because I am at my workplace and here ted,facebook,etc sites are restricted).

But I am sure you will be much more aware about the searching algo which is in use by search engine, google.

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