• http://www.seoaly.com Alysson

    I’m certainly not surprised to see Google adopt a “Friday News Dump” strategy here. The search industry may not be the White House press corps, but the theory still holds true. And the small amount of attention paid to this story serves as further evidence to support it.

    I would suggest that perhaps people aren’t discussing or losing their minds over it because they want to investigate further before angrily jumping up and down on their “jump to conclusions” mats, but I think we all know that isn’t the case. :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/GregBogdan Greg Bogdan

    As a marketer I am generally opposed to this as it presents yet another unknown that we need to be concerned about. Now we will have even less confidence that our customer’s SERP will look like ours. Defaults are very powerful. Less than 1% of searchers will disable personalization. Regional personalization is one thing, behavior personalization adds a completely different dimension.

    As a searcher and content consumer I am also concerned that Google makes the diversity decision based on what they calculate about me and my online behavior. Talk about black boxes. What is the Google definition of diversity? How will they keep diversity in the mix? I will toggle personalization on and off out of curiosity, but most others will not.

    Would love to see more examples of how SERP are differing in the same locations. I assume that the Google Ads preview tool can also be used to investigate this, which might be easier then toggling personalization off and on.

  • http://www.seo-rocket.de spacejazz

    The problem is even bigger than search engine experts expect.

    Why? It´s simple…
    A global player like google is able with personaliced search to trac and save personal surf behavior, likes and dislikes, political and religious views and much more by analcing the search terms and link clicks of every Google user worldwide.

    So, it´s possible to get a good picture about the character of every Google user and give this users, search engine results – matching to their profile.

    What is Google?
    A Company – linked to financial and politcal interests of this world – it´s not a independent institution from outerspace – that does nothing evil.

    Most Internet users – thrust in the Google results and use Google as Search Engine. But what happen´s when your personal privacy gets lost by the ability to give every user personalized search engine results?

    Scenario One:
    How easy is it – find individuals by this very personal database of searchbehavior, that are not in political therms liberal or the opposite site? How easy is it to send them only search results, to manipulate the information resources?

    Scenario Two:
    How easy is it – to change the opinion of a hole country of a goverment or individuals in our community, by manipulating SERPs?

    It´s about control – and it´s about freedom – and of corse – it´s about you.

    Think about it.

    A Company – linked to financial and politcal interests of this world.

  • http://www.seoword.com seoword

    I don’t think automatic personalized search changes things for SEO’s that much. The real measure of sem is new traffic and the leads it generates. Getting sites to come up prominently on serp’s doesn’t change due to personalized search. A client might not see what the SEO employee sees, but the traffic numbers shouldn’t be negatively affected.

  • Jon

    Thanks Danny, nice write up. And I agree the Search landscape just changed.

    seoword – You don’t think this changes things for SEO much? You sure you understand what Google just changed? Maybe re-read this article. Or get back to us in a few days when your clients start reporting that they get different search results than you do.

  • paullwolborsky

    This is a freaking disaster! An important part of Google’s social relevance is it’s reproducability. Lose that and worse, not know about it degrades people’s ability to share this tool.

    But it’s an important feature, so Google needs to offer 2 modes of search, public or personal, and make it VERY clear which mode you’re in.

    Paul Wolborsky

  • Dan3

    This changes a hell of a lot. Here’s a real world example that’s less than two hours old. Just left a client meeting where we searched on the same terms from the same wi-fi. Our results had them at number 2 on our laptop; their results had them at 140 on their desktop. We’ve been making site structure changes and searching the same terms a lot lately, so clearly the results showed high for us. We walked in proud as peacocks because a half hour earlier we checked some of our terms and all were top 10. We walked in announcing it in fact. To say that we left the meeting flushed with embarrassment is understating it.

    I agree with Jon: seoword – this changes the SEO game entirely.

  • JHardy

    I have a couple of questions that I can’t find any answers to:

    1) Do AdWords count? If someone clicks on one of our AdWords ads does it then make us more likely to appear in their Personalized Search results?

    2) Is this keyword or niche specific? e.g. if someone searches for “locationxyz history”, does it make you more likely to appear highly when that same person next searches for “locationxyz travel”?

  • http://www.kitten-x.com JamieKitson

    What a lot of fuss over nothing. If it doesn’t deliver the results people want they’ll stop using it, internet users using free services are fickle, and/or google will fix it. And I think you’re wrong in your assumption that people want impartial results, I don’t read the Telegraph because I wouldn’t like what it told me, I prefer to have by preconceptions confirmed by reading the Guardian. Maybe the reason why this story hasn’t been reported much is because it isn’t much of a story. Wait, SEOs and marketers are going to have a harder time? Oh boo hoo! My heart bleeds.

  • http://www.seoword.com seoword

    I do understand what Google has changed. Even after listening to your concerns, I still don’t think this changes the landscape that much. Obviously SEO changes constantly and this is another development we have to deal with, but it’s not that big a deal. Personalized search has been around for years. Expanding the people who get personalized results changes things some, but it’s not revolutionary. As Danny mentioned, search results positions have fluctuated due to geography and other factors already.
    Getting embarrassed in a meeting because you are surprised with search results fluctuations does not mean the end of SEO. Educating them on the reasons for variations would help.
    The point I made earlier still applies, qualified traffic and the leads it generates is the measure of effectiveness. What a client sees on his office computer can make you feel good (or bad) but it doesn’t increase the client’s revenue numbers.
    I agree with Danny that this development deserves more than a Friday news release. We need to be able to explain this to the public. But the fundamentals of SEO haven’t changed.

  • http://www.infoservemarketing.com/blog Infoserve Marketing

    Great post, and 100% correct about it not getting as much attention as it should. I made my own post on my blog about it, just to try and spread it further.

    I’m still sceptical about how much impact this is going to have on search results, will it just be part of the ranking algorithm and also what types of searches will it appear mostly for. I think the big winners here are companies like Amazon.

  • http://www.searchlightinteractive.com stepintothelight

    There is a solution to all of the debate here. Use, and encourage others to use a non-personalized search engine ; ).

    The funny thing here is that, although Google has complete control over what information is conjured up in its results, and personalized results spoon feed us even more, people are smart enough to know whether or not they have found what they are looking for in a search.

    So if Google presents 10 “options” based more on our past search behavior, so what? If a searcher doesn’t see what they need, they will continue down the results, refine their search, or go to another source.

    If I am searching for an “internet marketing company”, how might google apply personalization to that? Let’s assume it is a non-geo search. $10 says they can’t apply much or any useful “personalization”. Might they determine I am looking for U.S. only companies? Might they determine that I have searched specifically (and clicked on) local search marketing companies? So does that mean I will be served up only local search marketing companies in the future when I broaden out to “internet marketing company” again? Perhaps. But if I don’t get the results I want, I refine search or bail.

    I don’t think personalization is useful for much of the common user’s search behavior. I also don’t think Google is nimble enough or clever enough to really serve up tailored results that exactly fit its users.

    Cutts says personalization will happen in about 20% of searches. 20% can mean a bunch of money for a bunch of people (one way or the other). But it also means that 80% is not affected (yet). So we’re talking about varied rankings (possibly) for 20% of the searches out there. Those of us who still think it is useful to associate rankings with traffic will merely add “personalization disabled rankings” to our ranking reports, along with the existing caveat for local search results.

  • http://www.pleer.co.uk/ pleer

    Why has Google not made things easier for the searcher to let them understand that their search results are personalised now? There is no easy way for a computer illiterate to simply toggle between personalised and generic results. If this was made clearer then people may indeed use both options to see what results are output.

    However, aren’t we just theoretically facing a similar task when we try to optimise results for two different search engines like Google vs Bing?


  • jebbiii

    If I was Bing I would consider trumpeting this fact to the world: “BING HAS UNFILTERED RESULTS”, “NO BIAS”, “GET THE REAL RESULTS” (that is until I started doing it too)


  • http://www.adproducts.com.au adproducts

    With the advent of personalised search and other related things, SEO becomes more of a challenge but no less relevant. In fact it is right now very relevant and even urgent!

    No matter the level of personalisation Google offers, it can only vary result listings when people search for the same thing multiple times, and will generally only change results listings when a lower than top link has been clicked on more than once.

    Although people are creatures of habit, millions of people every day search for things they have not yet searched for, giving raw results. And even personalised results will not be completely different to raw results – there will be some variation, but not a completely different set of listings!

    I think for basic SEO each business needs to ensure they are near the top of listings for a raw (un-personalised result), and then not worry about who may be getting different personalised results – there will still be enough people getting all or some of the standard raw results to make it worthwhile. Also, two or three years down the track when google has for some people a couple years worth of cookie data, it will be harder to break into a person’s personalised results – right now when the data banks are smaller it’s easiers, to most important to get found now.

    It does however mean that SEO is not the be all and end all – it means that a wider online and social marketing focus is also required in order to achieve business success.