Google released their “permanent” personalization of results just at the end of last year, and Bing released their own the following week. Check SearchEngineLand’s coverage, though one big question remains in my mind:
What metrics impact personalization?
Is it merely clickthroughs from the organic results? Does visit history play a role? Or clicks from other vertical search services Google offers? What about clicks from paid search ads – either in the SERPs or from AdSense/DoubleClick?
I’d love to see experimentation done on this front so marketers have a better idea what they’re dealing with. If it’s proven that you can get organic benefits by attracting PPC clickthrough, this may be the new “paid inclusion” for 2010, and could drive bid prices up massively as companies compete not only for paid listing clicks, but for the chance to earn “organic” positioning as well.
Personalization means a few things for SEOs, but it doesn’t fundamentally change the game, IMO:
- The Rich Get RicherÂ – It’s now truer than ever. If you rank well, and earn solid traffic, you’re going to be even harder to unseat. Startups and upstarts are going to have an even greater uphill battle to climb than before.
- Branding is More ImportantÂ – you want your loyal visitors and fansÂ scouring the SERPs for your listings, and clicking them more so than anything else. I expect some clever spammers are going to be manipulating this with everything from Mechanical Turk to virus infections that make their browser search for their brand and click those results. We’ll see if Google has good protections in place to defend against this.
- There is No Normal RankingÂ – Or, at least, there’s no “normal” ranking that’s “average” in a personalized SERPs world. Rank tracking may still carry some value to understand how non-personalized searchers see your pages, but that data is going to be less useful in comparison to what your analytics report about search traffic and the trends. Win the “personalization” battle, and you may start to care less about the classic “rankings” battle.
SIDE NOTE: Here is instructions about turning off personalization
I tested out, and quite honestly, the search results still seem affected and not as good as before. It gathers randomÂ results– all related to a theme of words–but not much related to myÂ query in particular.