Permanent Google Personalised Search – A lukewarm introduction

by Peter Young on December 7, 2009 · 3 comments

Wow, when this dropped on Friday it was a bit of a bombshell.

From the (SEO) industry, the response has been lukewarm, and mixed in nature. Some people love it, others hate it (a good overview of this has been done by Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable – a couple read as follows:

Google is using a “secret cookie” not attached to the domain to handle the Web History/Personalized Search for users who are not logged in.The gradual impact over time will be that unaware users who click on Google search listings will reshape their search results. Unless Google develops some sort of injection to show people new (fresh) content, discovery will become more difficult for less sophisticated users. – HighRankings Forum

Google are there to find ways to best meet the needs of the searcher. As much as we want them to be, they are not there to meet our SEO needs. – Digital Point

The average Google user are just looking for what they want, and it’s them that the personalisation is aimed at. The people who do random searching will know how to “defeat” the filters. – Chris Hurst – Searchbliss

This just feels so very wrong-headed that the mind boggles! As I often explain to IT staff, NOT EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE PROGRAMMED SHOULD BE PROGRAMMED. – WebmasterWorld

@peteyoung other then tinfoil brigade and a few seos who remember I can’t imagine the take up will be high at all. – Tim Nash (in response to my initial RT (from GuavaMarkD) regarding personalised search being turned on

I think Richard Shove’s response to Tim above was pretty spot on (whether or not I agree with Googles decision or not) and highlights one of the reasons as to why this probably will mean that continued traction for Google continues unabated.

It’s on by default (I think) so I imagine it will only be SEOs that have it switched off. Joe Bloggs won’t know it’s now personalised

From a pure results stand point, I have to say there are certain bits that I will wait to see further details on, for example

  1. I for one use a search engine to find potential sites I haven’t used before, not ones I have.  I would be reluctant to lose this level of functionality at the expense of sites will naturally drive traffic to their sites through other means such as TV, press etc
  2. The level of personalisation. Further to my point above, I would reluctant to have my whole search query page taken up by results I have previously visited. Surely thats why bookmarks were invented?
  3. Do I necessarily want someone knowing that much of my search behaviour?

Its going to be interesting to see the uptake of this. As Richard says, I doubt the majority of people will know that this is happening, however whether or not they tire of seeing the similar sites coming back is a different story

I will finish with one of the quotes from Barry’s article at the Search Engine Roundtable and in turn taken from WebmasterWorld forums which I think finishes this off perfectly:

Sounds like an attempt at a product improvement. SEOs may or may not like it, but the real question is whether Joe Searcher likes it. If Joe does, Google will remain one big step ahead of its competitors. If Personalized Search turns out to be Google’s answer to Windows Vista, Google will need to bring back Google XP or leapfrog to Google 7.

Other articles on this subject
Google Personalised Search – Neil Jackson – Tamar
Google now personalises everbodies results – Danny Sullivan – Search Engine Land
Google Search gets personalised with everyone – Frank Read – Marketing Pilgrim
The SEO guide to personalised search – David Harry – SEODojo
12 Likely effects of Google Personalised Search -
Google’s Personalized Results: The “New Normal” That Deserves Extraordinary Attention – Danny Sullivan – Search Engine Land

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

soapberries April 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Hey buddy, Permanent Google Personalised Search – A lukewarm introduction | Holistic Search Marketing, really?? Have you ever heard about SEO? Your title should contain your main keywords, I dont think Permanent Google Personalised Search – A lukewarm introduction | Holistic Search Marketing is a good title. You should think a little bit about it if you want to be found on Google.

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