Chapter 7: Personalization & search engine rankings
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Years ago, everyone saw exactly the same search results. Today, no one sees exactly the same search results, not on Google, not on Bing. Everyone gets a personalized experience to some degree, even in private browsing windows.
Of course, there’s still a lot of commonality. It’s not that everyone sees completely different results. Instead, everyone sees many of the same “generic” listings. But there will also be some listings appearing because of where someone is, who they know or how they surf the web.
One of the easiest personalization ranking factors to understand is that people are shown results relevant to the country they’re in.
Someone in the US searching for “football” will get results about American football; someone in the UK will get results about the type of football that Americans would call soccer.
If your site isn’t deemed relevant to a particular country, then you’ve got less chance of showing up when country personalization happens. If you feel you should be relevant, then you’ll probably have to work on your international SEO.
The articles in the category below offer some international and multilingual tips:
Search engines don’t stop personalizing at the country level. They’ll tailor results to match the city or metropolitan area based on the user’s location.
As with country personalization, if you want to appear when someone gets city-specific results, you need to ensure your site is relevant to that city.
Check out the following links and categories for more locality information:
- Channel: Local
- SEO: Local
- Google: Maps and Local
- Column: Local Search
- How to: Local Search Marketing
- Bing: Maps and Local
- Search Engines: Maps and Local Search Engines
Ph: Personal history
What has someone been searching for and clicking on from their search results? What sites do they regularly visit?
This type of personal history is used to varying degrees and ways by both Google and Bing to influence search results. Unlike country or city personalization, there’s no easy way to try and make yourself more relevant.
Instead, it places more importance on first impressions and brand loyalty. When a user clicks on a “regular” search result, you want to ensure you’re presenting a great experience so they’ll come again. Over time, they may seek out your brand in search results, clicking on it even if it’s below other listings.
This behavior reinforces your site as one that they should be shown more frequently to that user. Even more so if they initiate a social gesture, such as a Like, +1 or Tweet that indicates a greater affinity for your site or brand.