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SEO: It Gets Personal

Google launched Personal Search in early 2005, initiating a new search paradigm that didn’t depend on the user being signed on or not. Going forward, search results would be weighted on the user’s search history, not just keywords. Algorithm updates followed, one after the other, like the Venice update in 2012 and the introduction of Google Now in 2012. At this juncture it’s safe to say Personalization is more than a major factor among many. It will dominate Search in the near future.


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Most Internet users don’t have a clue that their Search results are being personalized. Where Personalization initially made use of context and relevancy, localization now heavily influences the behavior of Search. Google’s algorithmic changes to Search over the years have locked in Personalization. With the Humming Bird update in 2013, we saw how search results could be tailored to individual needs by judging and understanding the entire context of search terms, not just individual words.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has said, ”Google search will continue to become more personalized, getting away from the ‘10 link’ approach that we see in search results today.”

How Does Personalization Affect SEO?

  1. Web-pages/websites focused only on keywords and intended only at improving links will no longer gain prominence
  2. User-centric content with a high “like” factor and greater probability of being shared among users will elevate in search results
  3. Branding will be significant enough that businesses need to build brands and not just websites
  4. Relevancy of content underscored by proper social relevance, asset optimization and syndication is vital

Factors that affect the personalization of search results

  1. Users’ location

Google — or any other search engine — knows exactly where a search query originates. With logged in users add age, sex, places travelled recently, et al. to the list of retrievable personal data. The increased use of smartphones has substantially increased the personal data flow into Google’s servers.

  1. Search & Web History

User’s behavior on the web, the type of search queries made, the websites visited can be mapped to the kind of search results a user experiences on Google.  Google collects data about logged in users to understand the kinds of websites a user favors and browses. Another key factor is the user’s profile on Google+. Likes and ratings to web-pages, product reviews, etc. all factor into the search results. And so do links a user likes that get pushed to people in his Google+ circles who then make a Google search.

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Three things you can do to win at the Personalization game

  1. Relevant & Fresh Content

Don’t just write for Search engines. Make your site content relevant to users. Fulfill a need. Continually update web pages to cater to users’ search behaviors.

  1. Social Sharing

Regularize social posting and sharing activity. Utilize all social channels, but focus on Google+, Google Local and YouTube.

  1. Focus on Content Syndication

Users reliably click on videos, infographics, and other rich-media assets much more than they click on editorial-heavy web-pages. So leverage your rich-media assets for content distribution.

The Personalization of Search: that’s the future of SEO. Let us know what you think.

Team Position2

May 8, 2015

By Team Position2