Personlized SERP's How Are You Preparing

22 comments

It's starts off over on Cre8asite Forums

It may have been said before, but I can't help but wonder if the SERP concept will become less relevant or a thing of the past.

Google Desktop, Google Notebook, Google Gadgets & Google Accounts will all gather end user specific information, habits and preferences. Google will most definitely use this information to target ads, but they might also use it to target more relevant search results. If so, your SERP's will not be my SERPS and my SERPS will probably be way off the norm for any websites that I do SEO for. Google will know my habits and they will be heavily skewed in towards websites that I manage.

Bruce Clay continues on his blog

I think it's going to make competition that much more fierce. Users will enter a query and only see the most relevant results. This makes your job of targeting them substantially harder. Your main goal is no longer to make it into the top 10. It's to be number one. Ideally, users will no longer have to scroll through a list of irrelevant results. If personalized search works the way it is supposed to, the user will immediately find the results they're looking for. If you're ranked second or third, they may never even get to you.

With Google trying everything it can to get it's users signed in and building a search history I think it's clear they are testing the waters. For example one of the new products released this week Google Co-Op is moving towards community driven SERP's. Like it or or not it's something SEO's are going to have to address at some point in the near future.

  • How soon do you think it will be before it becomes a serious factor?
  • Will Google lead the charge or will it be another player?
  • Will visibility become a useless metric?
  • What steps are you taking to prepare for it?
  • What new opportunities do you think it will open up?
  • Will this diminish SEO consulting in favor of affiliate/CPA SEO

Comments

private parties

We're in for a few rounds before anything like this stabilizes enough to change the world for SEO's. The private party gets pretty boring... how many John Q. Public's are tied to their bookmarks? Don't tell me it's because bookmarks are tied to the desktop... it's because bookmarks are boring.

John Q. uses Google because the fresh act of querying adds value to his effort at little cost *and* validates his awareness. Take it away... swap it for "notebook" or "desktop" or even "groupthink bookmarking" (just tagging?) and John Q. will get bored fast. He'll look for a search engine.

already there

I see this somewhat already - they must be localising to a certain extent, because I don't think I *ever* see what tools like Digitialpoint give as the current ranking for a query, or if someones blog discusses something and mentions the rank, I get something different.
When I click through from Google Sitemaps I never see the same as the 'average' position (and do note that even Google says it is an 'average' - they are well aware of what they are doing)
That given, I work more from logs - how many log entries do I see for term X? How has it changed over time? - with some backup from SERP positioning.

Moving from localising on locale to personalising by interests is more a step (a big and difficult step!) than a change in paradigm.

I think this is a non issue

I think this is a non issue if you base a majority of your work from your logs.

Google Co-op is too

Google Co-op is too complicated for the average Joe Blogg surfer as it stands IMHO.

Thinking about local as a whole, I dunno... maybe living on the small isle of Great Blighty skews perception somewhat. We don't have States 4 x the size of our country but looking at this as a user (from this vantage point), it's still much easier to just punch a query into a standard search box, quoting the location.

In this age of national and global conglomeration, there's increasingly little local to us anymore apart from services like taxi's, restaurants, hairdressers and the likes: If I want a book, I can go to Amazon; If I want to move money, log-in-to the one national bank website (or call India :p); If I want to check out some DIY kit, I can go to the retailers' site where the specs and prices are the same nationally.

I'm thinking maybe the question should be; is/will local search be a niche option or the default interface? I'm not sure a default local interface will suit most typical users. Or perhaps another question is, how local is local?

[Added: Last night I thought I was making love to a beautiful girl - turns out I was bent over the bog spewing-up. This is what Stella Artois does to one's mind. Apologies for somehow migrating to innane banter about Local... hopefully it fits in somewhere :p)

Sounds good to me!

I don't see it as something that affects SEO the way that many of us do SEO, i.e., simply making your site be the best, most relevant site for the users as well as the search engines.

If I understand correctly how things might change, it should be even better for those that use the methods I've been using and teaching.

Personalized SERP's will change for the same user

Personalization goes to intent which is an important factor of relevancy. However, a user's intent can change from usage to usage and time to time. Therefore, I don't think personalization will ever be perfect. But, I do think that it may make it harder for SEO's who only use "programming and analytics directed at the search engines only" to achieve the top results they used to get.

SEO's who follow SE guidelines, concentrate on site marketability, and are content driven (as Stoney says) will always provide a valuable service.

When I read the article

Content Will Not Be King. Or Even A Serf I had a "Light Bulb Moment" and this article only solidifies my belief... that the the new SEOs will be the people who are doing Word of Mouth Marketing (or WOM will be incorporated into Linkbait and SEO... those are the people who will be the search engine darlings... the ones whose rankings are high because they've created sticky content that gets links), who've created the vechiles that make people talk about their brands and link to their brands whether in bookmarks or personalised services like this... and your on-page seo/ white hat tactics - ie: "simply making your site be the best, most relevant site for the users as well as the search engines" will mean absolutely nothing to someone who makes their brand link worthy by way of creating viral content - but basic SEO still matters for those who are coming to your site by way of search engines...

Of course...

Quote:
ie: "simply making your site be the best, most relevant site for the users as well as the search engines" will mean absolutely nothing to someone who makes their brand link worthy by way of creating viral content -

Getting the word out about it is also, of course part of the equation. I agree that without that component, the rest is pretty useless.

Loooong way away

Jon Glick of Yahoo was talking about this exact concept more than two years ago, and I think we're barely any closer to it becoming reality ... if at all.

What's the adoption rate on Google Notebook, Google Co-Op, Google This, and Yahoo That? I think we're guilty of thinking that because our uber-geek community of first-adopters and tech-heads tries out all these things that Joe User must be doing the same.

Cripes ... Yahoo has had the SAVE and BLOCK links in their SERPs for how long now? And I've never heard one person outside of these circles make any mention of it. If I asked 10 clients if they know what Yahoo's MyWeb is, I'd get 10 blank looks.

I think oft times, as an

I think oft times, as an industry, we get focused too much on PPC. (porn, pills and casino). For viagra and poker I doubt the top results will get much worse than they are now, (could they possibly get any worse on G right now?????)

But that only has real impact to the industry. What poor desparate fool is searching majors hunting for just the right viagra site and not finding it? Would that poor fool really not spend his money on pee pee juice if the bottom thousand results suddenly reversed? Where would poor Google ever find another cloaked, re-directed, keyword hidden , super stuffed page selling penis puffery?

If we can force ourselves to fix our eyes on the horizon and see the bigger picture, we can see that it is about which restaurant you might be likely to select for dinner tonight and how to convince some restraurant that, for the right price, you could alter the perception of that individual swayed in your favor. The same with what T-shirt you would be likely to buy or where you might get your car washed.

What hairstyles might you be wearing and why did you select that specific style. What factors influenced you? AND, if so influenced, what does that indicate you might also be influenced to consider? Could it be this future possibility is kind of like demographics on steroids?

If we can look at these types of questions honestly, can we start to see that it is not so much about figuring out demographics as it is about convincing advertisers to pay more because you offer altered perception to a technically advanced, we-know-who-your-friends-are kind of demographics analysis?

As to how this applies to SEO, I think at the end of the day Jill is basically right.

>Jill said:
I don't see it as something that affects SEO the way that many of us do SEO, i.e., simply making your site be the best, most relevant site for the users as well as the search engines.<

I think the only tiny aspect she is failing to consider is that BEST, (as well as MOST relevant), is entirely subjective. What makes her definition of best a reality with the client? That of course is the easy part. Convincing the guy who just paid you to make the "best" website is easy to convince and get him to agree that you built for him the BEST and MOST relevant site and now all he has to do is wait while the SEO "helps" the search engine do their job. BUT, how about the visitor or the search engine? Does her best get more sales? Look the best? Load faster? Or some combination of all these aspects? And then does that make it "best" for me and the next guy and the next guy and the next? And of course, the most important, (maybe even the ONLY one that really matters), does the search engine think it's the "best"? Does the search engine realize that the SEO is actually much better at determining the MOST relevant or is it possible the search engines thinks it does fine without the helpful SEO?

I'm going to suggest that what is "best" in the eyes of the engine is that which best meets their own objectives, the least of which is not advertising dollars.

I'm also going to suggest that the NEW SEO,(assuming of course there was any such thing as SEO in the first place),has little to do with building ANY site to measure up to any yardstick that bears a mark for "best" and instead has more to do with identifying and immersing oneself into communities, to a lesser or greater degree, that have some connection with the individuals that make up the community than in striving for that subjective, if not entirely elusive "best" website.

Of course those who know me know that I have never accepted there was such a thing as spam, (I believe it is only a PR stunt developed and promoted by the search engines themselves to mask their own weaknesses and faults), and without spam, to a lesser or greater degree, there can be no SEO. Saying SEO exists without accepting that all SEO has at least a little to with spam, is akin to pronouncing your belief in God but without also accepting there really is a devil. To me, if it does exists beyond the boundaries of smoke and mirrors, it can't be one without the other. But hey, --- that's just me.

I believe, as I have for a long time now, that technology as it relates to an advertising delivery system,(commonly mistaken for a search engine), has been pursuing the old cliche' that birds of a feather flock together and I also personally believe they are closer to right with that philosophy than with counting the number of links. It would appear that cataloging where birds flock is a much more difficult algorithm than counting links and the number of times and the proximity to the top of a page the keywords are found.

I've Often Felt Like a Heretic

for saying that SEO has to be about more than rankings (or attaining some magic page rank or number of links or amount of Header tags, etc.) Or that marketing a client online is not keyword marketing (hence how it is possible to have two clients in the same sector at the same time without a conflict - since each business is unique). I feel sometimes that I'll be shot for saying that SEO has to be about more than even conversions from search engines... but about all conversions. Maybe this is why I've never considered myself an SEO but an Online Marketer who does SEO? And I guess it will take Matt Cutts saying that SEO is a lot like Marketing for other SEOs to finally understand... (I'm actually laughing now that I've actually quoted Matt Cutts) - rant complete... end transmission....

Think YOU'RE a heretic!!!

Think YOU'RE a heretic!!! :0
Try selling the fact that you don't believe there is any such thing as search engine spam. Yikes!

I believe there is traffic generation. I beleive there is advertising. I believe the search engines have a right to list what they want where they want, but I don't believe there is any such thing as search engine spam. There is only marketing and sales

if you do it right.

LOL and Don't Get Me Started

on the fact that there is nothing wrong with buying links to market a client (and drive traffic to their sites without the need for search engines...) and if I get a lift in the search engine rankings for that, great...and that it's not a publishers job to help search engines figure out their shortcomings...

For the record...

Quote:
I think the only tiny aspect she is failing to consider is that BEST, (as well as MOST relevant), is entirely subjective.

I'm not failing to consider that at all, and couldn't agree more!

The Penis Mightier

I love that joke. Had to use it here. hey Bob:

Quote:
If we can force ourselves to fix our eyes on the horizon and see the bigger picture, we can see that it is about which restaurant you might be likely to select for dinner tonight and how to convince some restraurant that, for the right price, you could alter the perception of that individual swayed in your favor. The same with what T-shirt you would be likely to buy or where you might get your car washed.

Another quality discussion beyond "black hat search engine spammers" and such. I love this statement (quoted above) but have to say that it is maybe even more about whether or not you select a restaurant for dinner tonight than which one you pick. I can SEO "new york city sushi" and then labor at winning over the visitors, or I can gather eyeballs expected to dine out when the opportunity presents itself and entice them to savor the sushi...at one of these top favorites...of which is plainly clear, Nobu is the best ;-)

Quote:
Edward Bulwer-Lytton's: "Beneath the rule of men entirely great, The pen is mightier than the sword"

It will never happen

I know I may be in the minority, but I just don't think it's going to happen the way many of us see. I don't think each user will have his own personalized search that reads his mind for him and knows when he searches Apple, he means computer and not the fruit. It is just too hard to accurately determine intent without hundreds of thousands of searches being done by a user.

Lets take the average web user. Would you say they make maybe 2-3 searches a day on different topics? How long would it really take for an algorithim to decipher this users preferences on that small amount over time?

But the biggest flaw in the evolution of personalized searching is privacy. Although most users are being tracked and probably know it to an extent, it's different when they are fully aware that a computer is storing their search data along with their profile information. Your searches are personal to you and people will fear having someone else holding this information on them.

With that said, I think we'll see some features added such as the ability to adjust from newer to older sites, search based on commercial or non-commercial, search blogs, etc. I think user data will be used to help advertisers better target searchers (blocking ads from kids, only showing to males, etc). I think results will be based on click-throughs, time on site, and other mitigating factors. But I also think this utopian idea that I'll search "news" and get CNN while George Bush searches "news" and gets Fox News is not plausible and extremely far off.

demographics

Quote:
Lets take the average web user. Would you say they make maybe 2-3 searches a day on different topics? How long would it really take for an algorithim to decipher this users preferences on that small amount over time?

What might make the difference is demographics - it won't take much for the bots to figure out that you are a 19 year old female, still at school and into emo bands. From there, they can make general inferences about the meaning of a search you place.
(Not that I am implying you *are* a 19 year old - oh, nevermind ;) )

Its not about your history of search, its about who you are.
(I actually think its we 'oddball' seos that will make it hard for them, with our screwy searches, by Jo(e) Public's standards :) but, then again, we are probably easy to spot just by those odd searches :))

>or I can gather eyeballs

>or I can gather eyeballs expected to dine out <

VERY astute John. This is exactly what I was alluding to in regards to communities. Where would you find those people that you could assume were expecting to dine out and be right more than you were wrong? I believe this statement alone:
>or I can gather eyeballs expected to dine out <
IS the new SEO,(whatever that is???), or at least a significant part of it. Certainly as significant a part as hidden text.

>Would you say they make maybe 2-3 searches a day on different topics? How long would it really take for an algorithm to decipher this users preferences on that small amount over time?<

Of course we are all free to believe what we like and I don't mean to invalidate your take on this but I think this is once again looking at the battle and not the war.

It is not about showing specific results to a specific user.It is about selling advertising. They don't have to track everywhere you go, everyone you talk to and everything you read so they can show YOU more relevant results. They do, or at least are trying to, we all know that, but ask yourself, "are they tracking that stuff to show me more relevant results or are they tracking that stuff to show advertisers so they will spend more?"

You may think it is merely a semantic distinction but it's not. To track you, they have to know where you are, who you are, what you are, where you go, who you email, what you talk about, what you like,what you don't etc, etc., etc............

BUT, to sell more ads, they really only need to track click thru rates and show advertisers upward trends to get increased budgets.

Naturally I'm trying to boil this down to the lowest common denominator but if you look at in these terms, it becomes possible to see that in a search for apple, any engine could easily show apple.com and washingtondelicious.com in the top 10 results and let you choose, making the time and energy spent to follow you so closely way out of proportion to any reasonable expense to income ratio.

BUT, looking at it using John's train of thought of gathering eyeballs expecting to eat apples or buy computers, that expense/income ratio would swing far if instead of tracking you, they simply put free offers, coupons and other various enticements for computers on apple.com and for red delicious apples on the other and then tracked the conversions.

Communities. More specifically, niche communities.

I do believe there will come a day when we all will surely be tracked electronically. Virtually every relationship, every word spoken, every action taken and certainly every dollar spent, will be captured, analyzed, recorded and called up at anytime by "THEM". The mark of the beast will look like a get-out-of-jail-free card compared to what is coming in the next 50 years, (I'm actually hoping against hope it will take that long because that way, I'll be taking my eternal dirt nap.) Making Mr. Turner far more right than wrong in his take on the subject. Individual rresults is going to take a while.

>I'm not failing to consider that at all, and couldn't agree more!<

Certainly meant no offense and I think that everyone SHOULD always strive for best. I only mentioned it to instigate discussion and point out that while best is subjective, hits to click thru rates are objective. 10 hits and one sale can not be argued against. It is a fact. My best site compared to your best site, now THAT would likely instigate discussion.

In our world of search engine manipulation, motivation or even those selfless attempts to aide our dear friends the engines in their quest for quality, we have this tendency to fall into thinking it is about relevancy or the "best" being on top. The fact is, search engines are NOT relevancy machines. They are advertising delivery machines, ( It is possible that there may be some non-profit search engine whose motivation is not tied to revenue generation and I'm just not aware of it). If we can accept that, then we can also accept that "best" = makes the most money and THAT offers a pretty good map of the path we can expect this little trip to take.

> In our world of search engine manipulation

I've quit manipulating ...my specialty is now providing what they expect to see.

As searchers on the whole

As searchers on the whole become more intelligent with their searches, I worry less about personalized search. Maybe in 1997 people searched for [jaguar] or [apple] and those kinds of SERPs decisions could have been helpful with a personalized set of results based on a history. Now, you see a lot more search modifiers in 3-4 word queries. To me, THAT is the personalized search I worry about.

ahem

Quote:
I've quit manipulating ...my specialty is now providing what they expect to see.

Shouldn't that be:

Quote:
I've quit manipulating search engines...my specialty is now providing what users expect to see.

or

Quote:
I've quit manipulating search engines...my specialty is now providing what the search engines expect to see.

Either one is decidedly spot-on. SEO Judo/Jujutsu.

{note: I wanted to say Judo... the gentle art of using the force and will of the opponent.. moementum if you will, against them. But wikipedia has me all flustered. They say Judo gets that from jujustu, but the jujutsu article is all confused. Ahh.. that wonderful prime source wikipedia.)

>they expect

they = both.

that's the trick, John, you have to let the search engines and users manipulate one-another on your behalf. think linkbait, for instance.

-added-
Thinking it over, to answer the "How Are You Preparing" question directly, that's mostly what I've been doing, adding linkbait.

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