Google admits it’s using very limited personalization in search results
Outside of a searcher's location or immediate context from a prior search, Google doesn't personalize the search results.
Google has told CNBC that “there is very little search personalization” going on in the Google search results ranking right now and that the personalization that is currently used is limited to “user’s location or immediate context from a prior search.”
Fading fast: Personalized search for search rankings was a big deal several years ago, but now you barely see cases of it in the search results. You do see it in other Google products, but not too much in core web search. Google said that after a lot of testing around personalization, they found it didn’t really help searchers find the content they are looking for and it very rarely helped improve search results.
Pandu Nayak, who leads ranking at Google, said, “A query a user comes with usually has so much context that the opportunity for personalization is just very limited.”
What happened? The last time Google wrote a detailed case on how they use personalization in search was in 2011. And in 2012, it started getting a bad rep, and competitors like DuckDuckGo used it as ammo against Google.
CNBC has pointed out that Google’s step back on personalization has helped them stay out of some of the controversy that sites like Facebook or Twitter have seen with their news feed algorithms.
Why should SEOs care? Many SEOs track search results, and without much personalization taking place, it might make it easier for SEOs to report on their ranking success or failures. Of course, localization is a heavy factor, and that plays a role in ranking. Google Search Console does provide ranking reports, as do many other tools.