Dec 22, 2009
On December 4th 2009 Google launched Personalized Search for everyone worldwide making the search results more tailored to individual searchers despite not being signed in to a Google account. Does this change of logged out users of Google getting personal search results eliminate the need of rank tracking?
The first thing to note is that the technology has not changed, Google has been doing personal search for years, it is the change in presentation across the board whether logged in or logged out.
There are two primary things that personal search is taking into consideration:
- Search History
In search history Google takes into consideration past activity on Google based on past search results and results clicked. Basically meaning that Google is officially coming out and telling everyone that they track everything and confirm what marketers have known for a long time. If you are not logged into a Google account Google uses a cookie in your browser to determine your past search history
In location Google bases its results according to IP address in order to help provide results that will be more geographically useful. Again this can be changed according to whether you are logged into a Google account or not. You can specify particular locations determined by Google Maps.
If you wish to turn off Google Personalization Search you can easily do so whether you are logged in as a Google account user or do not have a Google account.
So now that we have discussed a little about what Personalized Search lets discuss how this will change rank tracking (ie checking results for particular keyword phrases). If the results are tailored specifically to individual people determining on their search history and location then there will obviously be some changes in how some of the search results will be displayed.
This means that if I get a result for a page at lets say #3 for a keyword then it could possibly show up different to someone else due to their search history and location, not because of relevance and importance.
This means is that while rank tracking might not all together be dead, it will definitely be less important than it has in the past. Now rank tracking will have to create a close relationship with analytics showing how the traffic is coming into the site. What method is the traffic coming from and the keywords that are receiving the majority of the traffic will help to identify how users are seeing listings in the search results.
Google is all about improving the user experience for their users and improving conversions themselves as well. They have Google Website Optimizer which is a product that helps to improve conversions. In todays SEO industry rankings do not mean as much as they used to, but conversions, metrics, and analytics are all becoming increasingly important in what we offer.
If you do see that your rankings are staying around the same, but do see an influx of traffic then that could be due to personalized search showing your listing in a better light to others. However search engine rankings should never be the end all goal, so use rankings as a foundation or base to see where you are compared to what in regards to what you are receiving as far as traffic.