Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Google Extends Personalized Search

Google recently made the announcement that it is extending Personalized Search to signed-out users worldwide based upon 180 days (approximately 6 months) of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser. If you use 2 different browsers in your computer, each browser will be assigned one identity.

Depending on your search pattern and the websites you click from the search results, Google can customize your future search results. This means that you no longer need to be logged into your Google account to see results that are tailored to your interests. It’s important to note that this will only affect the organic search listings and should not impact paid advertisements displayed by Google Adwords.

For instance, if you were to visit Amazon.com on a regular basis using a bookmark or by typing the URL directly into your browser, it wouldn’t affect the way your Google results are displayed. But, if you searched for [best selling books 2009] in Google and clicked on the result for Amazon.com, then Google will note your selection. The next time you search for related book queries, Google may show Amazon.com higher in the results.

How can you tell if Google is personalizing your results? Look at the upper-right of the search results page and you’ll see a “View Customizations” link which will let you see how they've customized your results and also let you turn off this type of customization.

What is the impact for SEO?

From DBE’s perspective, the search engine optimization process doesn’t change. If your website is sufficiently optimized, Google’s algorithm will recognize that it is relevant to the targeted search term and display it accordingly. But, it is important to note that you may see varying search results if you’re using different computers or different Web browsers.

Here are some pointers for helping your site perform better in Personalized Search:

  1. Improve your click-thru rate. Shorter URLs and clear meta tag descriptions will help your website’s click-thru rate from the search results.
  2. Reduce your bounce rate. The page of your site which ranks for a given keyword needs to meet the searcher’s expectation so he or she doesn’t “bounce” (leave your site immediately after arriving on it).

Your site’s click-thru rate and bounce rate will tell Google whether a searcher liked the site or not, and will help determine if your website should be given a higher ranking for the searcher’s future related searches.

Danny Sullivan has posted a nice explanation of the new customization feature at Search Engine Land. You can also learn more about search personalization by watching this video from the Google team: http://www.youtube.com/v/EKuG2M6R4VM.

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