7 December 2009 | Tanya Goodin

Google Personalised Search

What personalised search means for your site

On Friday Google announced that it was rolling out personlised search for all users. This is a big change as previously personalised search was only run if you were logged in. Now Google will offer slightly adjusted results based on your previous 180 days history.

For exmple if you search for ‘recipes’ and click on the BBC site (say ranked at #4) next time you search for recipes it may be ranked at #2.

You do have the ability to opt out, just check in the top right hand side of the Google results page and you will see a link saying ‘Web History’. Click on that and you can enable or disable the personalisation. And if your results have been adjusted Google will let know, again, top right of the results with a link to ‘View Cusomizations’. Click on that to see what has been put in place.

There have been a lot of negative reaction to this new development, mainly based around a bit of paranoia over Google droppping cookies and following your every search, but they have done that for ages. But also over fear as to what this means for SEO.  However the fundemantals still stand in place. Yes there are no longer just one set of results  for every search (from a  user persepective) but as yet Google has not said just how many results will be affected by the personalisation process and actually there is one base set of results that Google will work from. Well as much as there has always been ‘one’ set of results.

Indeed, while rankings are potentially so fluid it is important to understand exactly where you do rank. Particularly for those ‘once a year‘ searches that will not have a history behind them. At least not for your clients. You of course may well see something different as no doubt you will have a history of clicking throiugh on your own sites!

In terms of Search Engine Optimisation sites still have to ‘rank’ so it is more important than ever to ensure your sites are well placed as people go through the discovery phase of their search. And just as important is to understand from your analytics where and how people are finding your site and to ensure you give them a reason to take an action on your site.

One thing that will really help your site rank well, and possibly improve on its ‘real’ ranking is by making sure the message you include is compelling and enticing. Drawing people in to your site, as opposed to your competitors is increasingly important.

We are going to hear more and more about this as we learn how this impacts on traffic. My one concern is that it possibly narrows down the  field for slightly more niche/unexpected sites. We shall see.

For more information Danny Sullivan has posted here over at Searchengineland. Watch this space.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar