Regional search results - always different

I met with 2 different clients this morning and had more or less the same discussion about all the different flavors of Google regional search results out there.

The client wants to know where they are ranking for the phrases they are watching - a reasonable request.

So I'm sitting down with the client explaining the rankings for a fairly competitive phrase we are targeting. We have 2 sites, one each for New Zealand and India.

On, 'pages from New Zealand', we are number 1.
On, 'the web', we are number 5 or so.
On, 'pages from India', we are number 1.
On, 'the web', we aren't anywhere significant.
On, we aren't anywhere significant for either site.

But it gets more complicated

So these results are all well and good, but they are skewed because we are viewing Google from a New Zealand IP address. Search results on are quite different when you view from the USA or any other country. We were finding that being #1 on for a particular phrase was bringing in very little traffic, until we realized that our #1 from a NZ IP address was actually #18 from a US IP address. Big difference.

Because airfares are not all that cheap, I use a proxy to view search results from an American perspective - has a good list of free proxies.

10 per page or 100 per page

So while my client was looking through the multiple pages of results, he got bored of clicking and turned the results to 100 per page. All of a sudden, our number 1 result turned into a number 3 result.
The 100 per page results differ from the 10 per page in that there are more indented results, but I have not seen the order of the results shift around before. It could be that the site beating me had better sub-pages than mine, or more depth of content to better match the phrase. Or just some random Google dance.

And more...

You can also go to and mangle the URL with some variables to make it country specific. I have ranked #1 for the phrase "seo" for some time by applying a NZ filter to results.
However, if you try that exact same query but replace the .com with I find myself on page 3 of the results. It's not that I'm not capable of getting higher, as I manage 2 other newer and less powerful sites in the top 10 for this same search.
I wonder if it's the .com domain working against me? Maybe it's not enough to be hosted in New Zealand - maybe I need the .nz domain name as well?

Something to think about

I haven't even mentioned personalization of results (that's another story), but it's clear that there are too many different flavors of Google results to keep track of properly.

My approach is to educate the client on the different types of search, so they understand why the site shows up where it does.
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