iPhone 4 Predicts Google Search Results

June 24, 2011 // Internet Fun, seo

This is probably one of my more “whacky” theories of late so please stay with me while I explain. Often as I’m sure most SEO’s out there do is check results for important keywords on a regular basis – EVERYWHERE!

A client might be obsessed with one particular ranking or you might have changed some on-site factor that you’re interested to see the results but if we care, we look.

A few weeks ago I started noticing different results on my iPhone 4 to that of my desktop/laptop – the result were actually quite a lot different, showing sites that usually appeared in positions 7-10 moving up to #2-3. I just assumed that the data used to display Google’s results was being taken from a different location – however later that day the results on my laptop changed to MATCH that of the iPhone 4.

I thought it was a little strange but thought nothing of it, however I saw this happen another 3 times over the course of 2 weeks – coincidence? The image you can see below was taken on my digital camera showing the top 2/3 websites for the keyword “car insurance” – with all personalisation turned off (well at least I tried to switch everything I have access too off) – you can clearly see the results are different (left side iPhone 4 results, right side Laptop results, notice the time 15:42 – click to enlarge):

On the iPhone 4 you can see Elephant and Admiral are #2 and #3 – whereas on the laptop it’s Co-Op and LV at #2 and #3. I then waited and checked the results 2 hours later and as you can see (click to enlarge):

Elephant and Admiral moved up +1 position each, so I waited another hour and eventually the search results in Google match that of the iPhone 4 3 hours earlier (click to enlarge):

Clearly there’s something going on here, potentially the data centers used for mobile devices are updated before those on desktops/laptops or perhaps my iPhone 4 really is magic and therefore very valuable – any offers?

Matt Ridout

About the author

My name is Matt Ridout, I've been working in digital marketing for 9 years; worked for agencies and currently Head of SEO at fashion startup called Farfetch. Try to test my own theories.


  1. It appears that the iPhone, when searching Google, understands your geographic location and brings up results in correspondence with it. Much as how searching ‘car insurance’ within one city will bring up insurance agencies specific to that city as opposed to another.

  2. Hi Allen,

    That could be completely true although it doesn’t explain how the results on the iPhone appear to change about 6 hours before a PC/Laptop?

    I’ve seen it happen so many times now I’m convinced the mobile data center is updated first.

Leave a Comment