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Personalized Google Search changes SEO

18th December 2009SEONo Comments

I just read a great post regarding the new Google personalized search techniques that I have to share and rant about.  You can read the original article here – searchengineland – Google personalization.  Wow I had no idea that this was happening and as someone who does a little bit of optimization on websites that I design I can see this as very problematic for web designers in general and SEO experts in particular.

Why?  Isn’t this an improvement in Search and doesn’t it mean that I am more likely to find what I want?  Well, no, not unless you are always looking for the same thing or always want the same information.  I am assuming that sites that you like that you want to go back to will be bookmarked as favorites, if you type in a new search – it stands to reason that you will want new results.   You can turn off the “personalization” but again the default is to have it on and most searchers won’t know about it at all.  Many will get upset at the fact that their search habits are being tracked this extensively, forgetting that search habits have always been tracked without your knowledge.  The difference is that now you are getting something that you have not asked for in the form of skewed search results that may not lead you to the answer you wanted.

What is worse….when it comes to little web designers and semi-SEO people, we optimize a site and eventually try to track how it is doing once it finally gets into google.  How do we see if it got into Google?  We search for it and see where it comes up in the listings.  So do our clients when they check to see how their site is doing.  The problem – my list and the client’s list have very little chance of matching.  Or worse yet, if we go to our own site alot, our results will start to skew in that direction, so we think we are number 1 in the listings when really for everyone else we are on page 10.  I don’t know if it will get this bad, but it is something to think about and watch for.