Adapting SEO for Personalization

The ground on which SEOs stand and work is constantly shifting. Technological innovations at a frantic pace are threatening to turn sci-fi movies into reality in the near future.

Google has been at the forefront in displaying cutting-edge technology not only in the virtual world, but recently in real-world conditions as well. Their driverless car is one such example while Google Glass aims to merge virtual with real.

On the other hand, Google has been actively pursuing and improving personalized search since many years. The Venice update in February 2012 as well as the launch of Google Now in July 2012 signaled to the world that Google was committed to the personalization route.

However, the fact is that most users do not even realize that Google has personalized their SERPs. Personalization is indeed very helpful to SEOs that may want to check ranking on a global, national, or local level. Since the needs of each website are different, these personalized results can help SEOs to understand their standing on a level that best suits their needs and focus on improving their ranking in their desired locations.

This form of understanding can then help website owners to reach out to local influencers, create local partnerships, create online and offline events, and connect with other local websites in case they want to expand at a local level. This personalization based on geolocalization can help a website gain added relevance at a local level.

Most users anyway do not know that Google personalizes their search experiences by way of a cookie even when they are not signed in. Google uses that data to improve search results as well as display ads that are more related to search queries.

Google uses search history to understand preferences of individual users. In addition, device used for the search, location of the searcher, time of the query, and many other factors are now considered by Google, which in turn indicates that no search is now neutral. SEOs must consider the fact that an overwhelming percentage of search results are actually based on personalization.

In addition, SEOs do need to consider structured data such as those from Open Graph, Microdata, and schema.org since this strategy can provide a rich snippet to search results for their sites. Snippets also allow search engines to learn more about the webpage and website. Search engines can also learn just how different documents of a website are related with each other.

Social too is playing an increasing role in determining rankings and one does need to understand that social does have an impact in SERP personalization. SEOs need to use Google’s Search Plus Your World (SPYW) if they wish their clients sites to outrank those of their competitors. It basically indicates that +1s have a direct impact on rankings in personalized environments such as SPYW while not having an impact in neutral searches. But, since users do not have an option of a neutral search, they will receive personalized search results, especially if they are Google Plus users.

Social media has anyway occupied an important position by being on top of the funnel during the discovery phase. In addition, social is also crucial during post discovery when users try to confirm the intent of their conversions. SEOs must hence try to boost authority on social media as well as optimize their content to make it easier to share socially in order to provide topics and keywords that have a high potential for future searches.

An email marketing campaign also holds a lot of potential for personalization. However, email marketing also offers a way to enhance visibility for search. Google’s Gmail Search Field Trial allows testers to look at enhanced results in their SERPs. These SERPs show emails that are actually relevant to the search of that user. Any user’s Gmail activity such as the people to whom they email more, messages opened by them and replied by them, keywords that evoke interest, and the way they manage stars, archives, etc., are considered in the SERPs.

Personalized search is a reality that cannot be ignored by web owners or SEOs or marketing teams. Search personalization has indeed changed the rules of SEO and SEOs need to move from neutral to personal to remain in sync with changing ground conditions.

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