On SearchEngineWatch, cektopxl asked:
“The decision makers in my company are afraid that the introduction of a ‘custom’ search engine is going to bring the world of natural SEO to a screeching halt. Do you guys have any feedback on google coop, and give me your opinions on whether you think this new tool will have an influence, if any, on the way that google ranks the sites that it indexes?”
Personalized searches (like those that Google does) and custom search engines (from Eurekster to Google Coop) have been cited as the silver bullet that will kill SEO for some time. However, there are two issues with this:
- On Custom Search Engines: While there are uses for custom search engines (from Eurekster to Yahoo), it appears that user adoption is very low and such engines are usually offered by a minority of publishers, more specifically niche bloggers.
- On Personalized Searches: I do notice that when I’m signed in on Google Accounts, my Google searches have notable differences compared to “unsigned” normal Google, but again adoption rate is an issue.
Yet even with higher adoption rates applied, the strategy and aims of a SEO campaign still applies, despite the different search engine environment custom search engines and personalized search would provide:
- Ensure website is crawlable by search engines
- Having content the audience wants and searches for
- Long term link building strategy (from directories to virals and from word of mouth campaigns to blog outreach)
- Leverage social media to distribute content and encourage link building
- Integrate SEO strategy with PPC, Branding and Awareness (Word of Mouth Campaigns etc)
In short, if a website is badly position with the audience, has little content, not crawlable by search engines, not attractive enough to be linked to – than you have a problem with search engines, coop or no coop, personalized or not. If, however, the websites has all this issues addressed, than generally it will be well positioned not only on traditional Yahoo, Google search engines but also in personalized searches as well.
Of course, a bad website can still get ranked well, but in the long run, a more nimble competitor can move in and displace it. Such a tactic is similar to “security through obscurity“, just because you haven’t been targeted yet by your competitors doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels.