Can Incognito Searches Have an Impact On Search Engine Rankings or SEO?

Our clients quite often ask us about incognito search and what impact, if any, it can have on a website’s ranking from a major search engine such as Google. So we thought we’d look at the issues involved in a little more detail here.

What exactly is incognito search?

In a nutshell, incognito mode allows you to conceal your search history from anyone who also uses your device. It’s important to note that what it doesn’t do is give you complete online anonymity. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and TOR – free open-source software for anonymous communication. (Even that may not be enough, but that’s an article for another day.)

Google and other major search engines can still access some of your details, even in incognito mode, including:

  • IP address
  • Where you have logged in while you have been online
  • Where you are

(And this was confirmed in a recent survey from privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo.)

So are there any SEO implications?

Google is known to use many hundreds of ranking factors, including the details it finds from a searcher’s browser (which are obviously more when not in incognito mode, for example language used). This explains why different people receive different results – the search engine is trying all the time to supply the most tailored, relevant results. Google can still do this even when someone is browsing in incognito mode.

However, click-through rate (CTR) is not typically a factor in its ranking algorithm, once personalisation and search history have been taken out of the equation. That means that clicks on websites don’t have an impact on ranking position, even though Google can still personalise search results based on past behaviour. That’s not to say that search engines won’t use CTR in other ways, for example to personalise search results, based also on past behaviour.

But, done in incognito mode, clicks won’t have any impact on the way your website is ranked. Therefore, ultimately, incognito browsing doesn’t really have any meaningful impact on SEO – however, it’s nonetheless worth being aware that Google still uses your online activity, however you or anyone else is searching.

Summing up

Front Page Advantage has an in-depth understanding of all factors affecting SEO rankings for Google and other major search engines, and we’ve worked with many different clients in varied industries and sectors. Talk to us today about how we could help you make your website more visible.