In April 2009, Google rolled out ‘Personalised Search’ to all users, not just those who were signed in to a Gmail account. What this means is that anyone using Google is automatically presented with results that are specific to their previous searches and these are displayed above the natural results from Google.
Personalised Search is an ‘opt out’ aspect of Google which was automatically implemented and not all Google users are aware that Big Brother is fine tuning their search results.
Anyone with a website ultimately wants to appear on Page 1 of Google for their key search terms but it is worth bearing in mind that if two individuals have not de-activated the ‘personalised search’ facility and they type in the exact same search term, they may not necessarily see the same results in the SERPS.
The implications for SEO
If you have worked hard to achieve Page 1 or even Number 1 on Google, users with activated ‘personalised search’ may not see your company as the number 1. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have dropped off the first page but some of the results that they see first will be directly related to previously searches conducted and your website may appear slightly lower down.
As an SEO professional or web developer, you would be wise to de-activate ‘Personalised Search’ with a view to concentrating on achieving Page 1 ranking as you did before ‘Personalised Search’ came in to play. In the ‘worst case scenario’ you will be able to see a true representation of your website’s ranking on Google, the old style.
In the main, Google ranking is still key. The message to SEO professionals is that nothing has really changed, continue working in the same way as before, concentrating on
- Keyword rich content
- Regularly content updates that will keep people interested
- Obtaining high quality in-bound links (from trusted sources) that direct relevant traffic to relevant pages*
- Page URLs that contain the relevant keyword for each page
using these methods (and several others) you will continue to deliver successful results, whether Google users have ‘Personalised Search’ activated or de-activated
*A quick way to achieve relevant in-bound links is to publish press releases within a relevant industry news portal that offers an upgrade service to suit your budget. News published within a relevant news portal will be seen by an established audience of ‘opt-in’ subscribers and the optimised links will allow them to visit your website, directly from your news.