Let’s Get Personal – Ahem, With Search!

So, what IS personalized search? Personalized search is the notion that when you search, Google will already have an idea about what you are looking for and tailor the results to your own personal liking. Google will make assumptions based upon your search history and provide results accordingly. Whether you are researching or shopping … you will get different results. Bruce Clay also talked about this trend in depth at the PubCon conference this past year in sunny Vegas.

Let’s take a look at a concrete example. If you go to Google and search for keyword ‘cookies’, you will get a mixture of results ranging from the Internet Cookie to the Christmas or Oreo Cookie. As a result, the searcher has to weed through the listed sites, skipping all the sites that aren’t relevant, to get to the desired destination. With personalized search, the object is to eliminate the sites that are found on duplicate definition keywords. Let’s say I was a baker or a cook and had a history of searching for baking goods, recipes and cooking supplies. What Google is suggesting is that with Personalized search, all the Internet Cookie results would be eliminated and all the Sweet Cookie results would be displayed, so as to streamline my own personal results.

Your location will come into play as well. For example, I am located in Williamsburg, VA. A brief geography lesson informs us that there are several cities named Williamsburg, including one in NY (better known as Billburg!). Anyhoo, I find Williamsburg, NY in my search results quite frequently and have to skip over the listings to get to what I need. It might be nice when these results are filtered out of my personal search results.

Genius? Intrusive? You decide. Regardless of what you think, it’s happening. Estimated roll out dates are First Quarter of 2009, but some of you may already be seeing this trend happening to your search results now.

What does personalized search mean to your RANK, your POSITION within the search engines? It means that you need to find another way to measure your success! Make sure to optimize your website for the 30% of search residing in the ‘other’ category: video, pdf, audio, and images (just to name a few).

For a while now, SEO’s have been making the shift from rank to traffic; But it is still very common for clients to demand high rankings. It will be up to the SEO to educate the client on the shifts that are predicted for 2009.

Stay posted for more information on Personalized and Universal Search coming to the Mannix Marketing blog 🙂