James Royal-Lawson


10 important consequences of personal search results

Today, Simon Sundén published a post in Swedish called personalising search results as standard. It is no longer limited to those who are logged in. This has some pretty large consequences for search results and keyword rankings. The inclusion of real-time results and the upcoming Caffeine update are important; but personalised results as standard is a major change rather than a significant tweak.

In simple terms, it means that you’re less likely to get the same search result with the same search times in different browsers, or on different computers (and in different countries, logged in to google or not). SERPs suddenly got a whole lot more complicated.

Here’s a brief translation of the 10 consequences Simon described in detail on his blog, with followed by description:

1. Lots of companies think that they rank highest, but in reality they aren’t seen at all

It’s going to have to be explained a lot of times, but searching yourself is no longer empirical evidence that you’re poorly ranked, or well ranked.

2. Google me! or, well, don’t

Universal guaranteed search terms that rank high, won’t be quite as guaranteed anymore.

3. Optimise titles and descriptions!

Conversions from SERPs to clicks is even more important as clicks in results are now part of the ranking equation. Titles and descriptions are what are shown.

4. More important to optimise for all search types

Optimise for all search results – blended search; image, news, real-time, video. Everything that’s just not the classic organic search result.

5. Tuffer times for Ranking tools

Keyword ranking tools suddenly became a lot less accurate. They still have a roll to play as an indicator, but less so as a firm statistic.

6. Wide content scope is beneficial

As Google value well-visited sites, it’s even more important that you take good care of your visitors (or searchers so that they become visitors!)

7. Statistics even more important

It’s going to be more important to collect statistics about exactly which page visitors have come from via search engines; 1st, 2nd, 3rd?

8. Google webmaster reports become important… again

The “Top search queries” report becomes more relevant the more personalised results become. It’s the new ranking tool.

9. Bye, bye “Don’t be Evil” Google!

Google has take even one step further to being all-conquering and all-important. will be harder and hard to be perceived as not doing evil.

10. Bye, bye paid-rankings?

Various companies provide paid servicing giving top 3 or top 10 results on Google. What happens to that business model now?

Google is shaping our Internet. With almost every announcement they have the power to change not only our lives but also our businesses.

Keywords meta tag is not completely useless

Despite Google confirming that they do not use the keywords metatag for ranking purposes, the keyword meta tag is not completely without it’s uses.

When you optimise the content of a page for a given set of keywords then that is an investment you have made, and the resultant set of keywords is an asset. The keywords meta tag is a simple way of safe-guarding that asset over time.

More often than not, web pages are optimised when they are initially published. Subsequent edits and updates are unlikely to include a recheck against the original set of keywords especially given the web publishing models many organisations use. This means that the original investment has been at best devalued and at worst wasted.

My recommendation is to keep entering the keywords into the keyword meta tag that the page has been optimised for – not because Google cares about it – but so that editors can be educated to always check their content changes against that list, and to update the list when the page has been re-optimised.

By utilising the tag in this was, we increase the return on the original investment that was made in optimising, and increase the chance that future edits will also be on target & keep the original keywords in mind.

IBM is afraid of Microsoft who is afraid of Google who is afraid of Facebook who is afraid of Twitter who is afraid of whales.

Jeremiah Owyang describing the current pecking order on the world wide web. Shame there was no bowl of petunias involved.
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Geotargetting country-neutral top-level domains

If you have a country-specific domain, such as (for the UK) or .se (for Sweden) then Google automatically presumes that your site is targeted to that region. It’s not something you can change yourself.

If you have a country-neutral TLD (such as .com or .org) then Google doesn’t automatically presume any particular targeted country. If you have a geographically neutral domain name but a site that is specifically targeting a certain country then you need to make sure Google knows that. Failing to do so will mean that your .com site appears lower down in search results. This can be particularly noticable for non-english language sites in countries where Google search is available in your language.

You can geo-target your domain using Google Webmaster Tools.

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