08 Dec 2009

Personalized Search: What’s the Impact on SEO?

GoogleGoogle’s recent announcement about their extension of personalized search options to users who aren’t signed-in to their Google account has created another round of buzz in the SEO industry. SEO clients are already asking questions. Will I lose my #1 position? How do I know if I will show up in SERPs for my keywords whether a user is signed-in or not? Should I keep investing in SEO? These are all valid questions, and while some can be answered fairly easily others simply cannot.  

Google has been customizing search for users who were signed into their Google accounts for awhile now. If you frequented certain sites your results pages would reflect such to help with overall user experience. For those looking to occupy a top slot for certain keywords, however, you’d have a harder time influencing a searcher who had never visited your site before because Google placed precedence on a site that had previously been viewed by the user. For the end user this makes sense, but for SEOs it can be concerning. And now with the news that personalized search is being offered to users who are not signed-in the debate begins anew.
The changes to Google came very quietly, and when viewing their site as a user who isn’t signed in you’d be surprised how hard it is to find out how to turn off the personalized search settings. Danny Sullivan’s post over at Search Engine Land, "Google’s Personalized Results: The "New Normal" That Deserves Extraordinary Attention", discusses in detail the way this news has flown under the radar, and criticizes the lack of notice Google has given us.
Should you continue to focus on SEO?  Absolutely.  If you are never found to begin with, you will never be a player in personalized search either.  Being found on page 1 of the SERPs can sustain an entire business, there is no reason not to continue with that goal.  However, you should also look at finding other ways to generate traffic: social media, promotions, video marketing, etc. Current rankings might change, there’s never been a way to absolutely ensure that your site stays in the same spot. Our advice: don’t freak out, keep working on quality, optimized content, and look at incorporating a social media marketing plan into your mix.
How do you think personalized search will impact your SEO efforts?


1 Comment

  • Double Vee Dec 10, 2009

    This will definitely put more emphasis on statistics and conversions. Once clients understand rankings might potentially shift from one browser to another, they will want to know their ROI precisely.