Executive Summary: Google Goes Personal, How Much Should We Care?
Last week, it was announced that Google will automatically sign-up Google Account users to additional services by default, including “Personalized Search”, which will gives users unique Search Results (SERPs), basing rankings of websites on past search history and other behavioral data.
So now, what ranks on Google will depend on each Google user, ending the notion of different people being able to see the same search results. While people are asking “How will SEO change because of this?”, another question also needs to be asked is “How much will this effect the average Google Search?”
For example, Nick Wilson puts heavy emphasis on using leveraging Social Media to optimize for Google’s Personalized Services, but how many Google users are actually using social media with Google (E.G. Google Reader)? This is a question that needs to be considered before making changes to how you do SEO.
The Google Personalized Ranking Variables and the SEO Tactics
Here’s a quick recap on the new variables that will effect organic rankings and what SEO needs to do to address them. See Nick Wilson’s SEL article for more.
- Google Search History:
What it is: Keeps a log of all search queries were conducted and what links on the results page (SERPs) were clicked on
How it effects SEO: Page titles need to not only help a webpage rank high, but be attractive to be clicked on
SEO Tactics: Page titles need to concentrate on CTR as much as getting the ranking.
- Google Personalized Homepage
What it Is: Like Yahoo’s “Personal Homepage”, but with the ability to add various widgets and RSS Feeds
How it may effect SEO: 1) What widgets are being used; 2) What RSS feeds are being subscribed to and clicked on
SEO Tactic: 1) Create helpful Widgets; 2) Do Blogging; 3) Engage in promoting Widgets and Blogs via linkbait, WoM etc
- Google Reader
What it is: Google’s fast raising web-based RSS Reader
How it may effect SEO: What RSS feeds are being subscribed to, which one’s are being read and to what frequency
SEO Tactic: 1) Do Blogging; 2) Engage in promoting Blog via linkbait, WoM etc
- Google Bookmarks:
What it is: Bookmarking tool, like Del.icio.us etc
How it may effect SEO: What pages are being bookmarked by the user
SEO Tactic: 1) Create “Bookmark worthy” content and tools; 2) SMO with “Add to Google” Links; 3) Do WoM, Viral, Linkbait etc.
How much will this change Ranking for Google?
From everything I gathered, Google’s new move will only effect those logged into a Google Accounts when doing a search, so…
- What percentage of users is this?
- How many of these users use the advance services like Google Reader, Bookmarks, or Personalized Homepage with widgets and RSS feeds? The features that are now used in ranking?
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any readily available satisfying answers for Question #1, other than there are ~51 million Gmail users (so at least that many accounts) and there are ~103m US searchers per day on Google. Unfortunately, these statistics doesnt bring us any closer to how many searches were done under a Google Account. And we can’t even deduce users did all 103 million searches per day.
However on Question #2, the use of Google services, even popular services like Google Reader, while fastly growing, are not market leaders (in traffic terms) as of yet. And Google Bookmarks is a virtual unknown, while I would assume Google Personalized Homepage’s more advance features are only slightly more used.
So what about and who should be worried about the new system?
- Search History is one service that is guaranteed to be used, so attractive titles and descriptions are a must to increase CTR.
- If your website is targeting tech-savvy, early adopters (who are likely to use Google Accounts) than you should worry about Google Reader, Google Personalized Homepage Widgets and so on.
Of course, as part of SEO, one must think about blog marketing, widget creation and social media marketing (all what Nick Wilson emphasized), but right now for Google, it doesnt seem to be necessarily needed until services like Google Reader are more popularly used.
What are your thoughts on this?
UPDATE from February 14, 2007:
I just remember I’ve previously written about this topic in “Google Co-Op, Custom Search and the impact on SEO”, which declared:
“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.”