Search: should personalised mean pessimistic?

In Link Building, SEO Strategy by Marius Badenhorst

Google goals

Google is going to analyse your surfing behaviour in order to derive more relevance to use in serving you personalised search results, for example:

Have you created a personalised Google homepage with feeds? Do you use iGoogle? What have you been searching for? Do you click through results and click back or actually spend time reading? Are there recurring topics or trends emerging from your surfing activities and choice of sites you spend time on?

Reading this, I raise my own question: is Google looking only to show you pages that are similar and related to pages you’ve seen before and are located near you, or do they intend to discover deeper levels of patterns regarding how people find what they need, or perhaps a mix of both?

In a New York Times post, Miguel Helft quotes Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

“Over the next year, Google is planning to use information it has about the connections between its users, something techies call the “social graph,” to improve searches and other Google services.”

Helft also states:

“There have also been reports that Google will not only use its social graph information for its own services but will also create a system for other companies to use the same data — in other words, to out-open Facebook.”

The practical side for marketers

Eric Ward says that in link building for personalised search, one should focus more than ever on optimising your strategy to maximise the effect of local search – list with Google Maps and Google Local. Also, make sure your content is ready for Google Bookmarks, as this is another route Google might take in serving you more tailored and relevant results.

I checked out Bookmarks for the first time after reading Eric Wards interview, and so far found that it would be quite useful to me as my own personal tool, but from a marketers perspective, it seems to offer no way of reading what other bookmarkers are bookmarking. I would have thought they’d have allowed you to search through other people’s bookmarks, like Delicious do, but no such luck.

So, Google is going to use every bit of data they have about you to show you results that are more useful to you than anyone else? I suppose this makes sense, but this should still be just one element of your strategy, and not a basket to put all your eggs in. Since you want qualified visitors, this is one way of narrowing them down, and as such is quite effective and probably worth devoting some time to – after all, Google’s member base (members not searchers) must be quite massive by now.

When pondering whether personalised search is going to improve search on the whole, or lessen that certain “random” factor to my search experience, I cannot really draw a conclusion. One thing I’d like to see is services no longer using the same old common high level categories to serve you relevant pages (movies, music, fashion etc), like last year’s Personalised search did. If anyone is capable of doing that, it’s Google.

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst