There’s been a bit of a panic among some SEOs that the ramp up of Google Personalized Search Results last month will mean the end of SEO. But aside from the impact personalized search will have on SEO, personalized search also impacts link building related activities. Some of that impact is major. Link spam will take a huge hit, becoming (hopefully) even less effective than it is now. Topical link building will become even more important, especially getting your links onto pages where they have significant relevance. These types of links also have a better chance of being seen by humans that care about that content, and by extension, more likely to be bookmarked or shared.
Speaking of shared bookmarks, have a look here at Google Bookmarks. If you are logged into your Google account, log out and look at the above URL again, or you might miss the descriptions of what the service offers:
- Create bookmarks you can access anywhere
Bookmark your favorite web sites and add labels and notes to them. Your labels and notes are searchable later, and you can access your bookmarks from any computer by signing in.
- Save time with quick links to your favorite web sites
Use Personalized Search to find the sites you visit frequently and bookmark your favorites. Use the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer for quick access to your bookmarks and to easily create more.
Google doesn’t make a big deal out of it, but one of the other things those bookmarks do is help Google learn what you might be interested in. You’ve bookmarked forty sites about baseball and two about spastic colons? Bingo. Over time your personal search results will reflect that. This example is an oversimplification of a much more complex and remarkable shift the engines are all making or considering. Your habits while online help paint a picture of what you care about.
Back to link building. The Google bookmarks service has been around a while, but hasn’t been particularly well known. Now though, don’t be surprised to hear marketers scream "we must get our site bookmarked by as many people as possible that have Google bookmark accounts!" That’s a nice thought and might actually pay off. End users already have several tools to make adding Google bookmarks a drag and drop snap. Here’s one.
You can also make it a bit easier for users of your content to add that content to Google’s various services. You’ve already seen this with those "add to My Google" chicklets that slap RSS feeds on your Google Personalized homepage or feedreader page in just two clicks. The same applies to Google Bookmarks. You could use a cool third party tool like the Socializer or AddThis, or you could just focus specifically on Google Bookmarks, like this. Please click the link below.
When you clicked the above link, at the worst you got to the Google login screen, and at best you got right to your add bookmarks form, where you can now add this Link Week article to your Google bookmarks (please do).
Google Bookmarks is just one of several things possible Google analyze and incorporate into personalized search results, as Search Engine Land has already covered and Google also explains here. Search History — what you clicked on during previous Google searches – and Google Personalized Homepage usage is also used.
We have barely scratched the surface of personalized search. Imagine all the content Google could try to analyze. Here’s a long list. Gmail? Froogle? Groups? Depending on how many search related services you use and how many you’ve personalized, all the engines know a heckuva lot about you, not just Google.
This doesn’t mean they will use that info for search results, but imagine. Engines know the sites you click on in the search results, the sites you bookmark, the feeds you read. They know the places you’ve mapped, the restaurant you got directions for, the movie times you checked out. They know the email groups you are a member of, the newsletters you subscribed to, the alerts you follow, the news stories you clicked on. They know the images you viewed. It’s way scary and interesting at the same time. Fascinating in its potential for us link builders and content publicists.
As to where personalized search is headed and the impact it will have on all aspects of link building, I’ve focused on Google for this column, and on just a few aspects of personalized search. I’m also writing an expanded version of Personalized Search and Link Building, which goes into greater detail about this topic, including Yahoo, MSN, and the social sites and harvesters. If you’d like to know when it’s available, shoot me an email.
Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy to a monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers, The Ward Report. The Link Week column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.