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I have seen the future and it is VERY personal

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 14 November 2007 05:55


Personalized Search and User Metric SEO

So have you been listening? You know, when I was saying that understanding Google’s ‘Personalized Search’ would be very important moving forward in the world of SEO? Sure you did, but you simply blew me off ‘cause we have all heard this before and no one in the industry seems to be making much of a fuss, right? Why listen to this whacked out wandering web Gypsy? He’s cute and kinda funny… but he doesn’t really live on the cutting edge right?

Well straighten up and listen here my apathetic apostles lest you flounder in SEO purgatory in the years to come. There is a new wind a blowin’ and the Good Ship Google has set a course that most certainly has ramifications for all of those seeking SERP nirvana.


We are the Google – Resistance is futile 

When we left off I was talking about the pervasive nature of Google accounts over a variety of offerings , all of which automatically assign you a Google account and have personalized search turned on by default. Even the venerable GreyWolf ranted earlier this week about the Borg and his Google desktop and how he struggled to turn off the Personalized Search aspects buried within it's deepest bowels. We will be haunted by the ghost of personalized search (PS) for years to come my friends, heed these warnings well.

The Google computer is just loaded with data grabbers from the obvious Google Toolbar, right down to the operating system, Google Desktop and more. I think it is safe to surmise that the G-Puter will be around for a while since it sold out as fast as a bottle of Chivas Regal during dollar days at the local hooch shop. We can also assume with its minimum specs (and bargain price), that these aren’t exactly the power users that will be able to unlock the mystery to exorcising the personalized search demons, if they even know that it is there at all. If Mr. Wolfie is going 10 rounds with it and no submission in sight, then what hope is there for the low end computer consumer? There is no hope I assert, Personalized Search will be the only world they know.

Now let’s add to that the other new born babe in the Google kingdom, the G-mobile; or ‘Android’ as it has aptly been dubbed (that name still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy). This little fella is most certainly no small fry and with a $10 Million dollar prize for the best new applications for it, he is patrolling the streets with a pretty big carrot on that stick. Should your voyeuristic nature leave you pining for a peek; check out this Demo Video for Android. Do you really think anyone is going to wrestle with those little buttons to try and disable personalized search? Think again.  (my last post on Android)


Google the Social Butterfly

If that hasn’t begun to bend your beliefs to that of which I speak, then let’s get social. Google is pressing forward in the Social Space as well. Remember, that when you sign up for many of the Google properties, you get a Google account with the ubiquitous, ever-present, personalized search turned on by default. The more properties, services and devices, the more ways there will be to end up using PS without even knowing it. Among Google’s strategy in the Social space is the recently announced ‘Open Social’ an open platform for developers to create applications geared at the Social web-space and they have a pretty impressive starting cast right out of the gate.

Among other partners, one heavy weight of note is MySpace, which is actually still the # 1 social networking site that there is (sorry FaceBook, maybe next year). They top out with more than 100 million unique visitors per month, as of September.  Then we also have little known Google networking site, Orkut, introduced in January 2004, is in sixth place in worldwide page views, with about 25 million unique visitors in the month September - no small potatoes there farmer boy!


Welcome to SEO 2.0 – A brave new world

And why stop there? Why not start getting into some other markets by adding Google TV and the Google Magazine while we’re at it right? I am going to crawl way out on a limb here and venture a guess that, should these plans come to fruition, the happy end users will also get a nifty little Google account set up with…. Oh come on… let me hear you say it… with personalized search; snuggled deeply under the blanket. 

It will make perfect sense for people to be logged into their Google account at all times to access information and preferences across multiple platforms, properties (websites) and devices. The potential reach and implications for personalized search is truly staggering and cannot, and I do repeat... CANNOT, be overlooked by the conscientious Search Engine Optimizer.


User Performance Metrics and You

Much of what is under the hood is what is called ‘user performance metrics’ (UPM); in simplest terms, the actions that a user takes have a bearing on future search results. This can be bounce rates, search query refinements and even calculating probable matches based on co-current searches.

Now if that hasn’t gotten your attention, there is every reason to believe that UPMs could also find their way into the ranking of documents (websites et al) in the core regular index in one manner or another. There are a few patents the Brother Bill sent me a while back that discuss just such concepts that can be used for PS or even the regular index. Certainly it would be what is considered to be a weak signal, but one cannot disregard such concepts.  I do believe it is entirely possible for user performance metrics to be used in some aspect, in the regular index, though likely not as heavily weighted as it would be in a PS application. I will write about those aspects (regular search and UPM) more in the weeks to come. For now I am simply looking at the Personalized Search implications.

In the end analysis, you cannot ignore Personalized Search in your SEO toolbox; it simply must be understood. And just exactly what should you be learning about it? What steps can be made to combat this boundless behemoth and seemingly user controlled rankings? Well, for that my dear reader… you will have to stay tuned.


Next time; How to prepare for a Personalized Search World

The Series;

Part I; Why Google’s Personalized Search is important – examining the pervasive nature of Google accounts and Personalized Search now and in the future

Part III; What every SEO should know about Personalized Search – takes apart the various methods under the hood.

Part IV: the Art of Personalized Search Optimization - a look at ways to leverage it and beyond


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