Whatever your opinion of Google personalized search it is here and here to stay. In fact, it is likely to become increasingly sophisticated as more personalization signals are incorporated into the ranking calculation.
In practice, personalization means that the Google search results one person sees for a particular query are likely to differ from those seen by someone else. And it’s important to note that this now happens regardless of whether someone is logged into Google or not so many searchers will be seeing personalized search results without even realizing they are doing so.
It has been suggested that this means an end to SEO, which is nonsense. But it does present some new challenges for those involved in the practice of search engine optimization. One of these is explaining to clients how personalized SERPs results in their site pages appearing at various positions depending upon who is carrying out the search.
Observers and testers have noted that, although there may be some fluctuation in the top 10 ranking positions, the pages returned remain largely the same. Another key observation has been that the top 4 results tend to remain fairly consistent. So, getting onto page #1 for a particular query and, ideally, into the top half of page #1 is still very significant.
But rather than focus heavily upon search positions it is more important to look at traffic arriving as a result of various search queries. This is another factor that needs to be communicated to clients.
So what can a busy SEO engineer do to ensure that client sites have the best possible chance of appearing in various personalized search results? Here are five basic recommendations:
1. Ensure Content is Relevant
Relevance indicators are a top priority for some SEO attention. Reviewing onsite factors that can be used to associate specific pages with various search queries is a fundamental SEO best practice.
This means looking closely at content and copy with regard to the words and phrases used in search queries. It also means looking closely at offsite relevance indicators such as the anchor text used in links directed at specific pages along with associated copy and the topics of pages hosting inbound links.
2. Provide Engaging Content
Engagement is another key factor that it likely to be a signal used in search personalization. If landing pages engage visitors by providing them with what they were looking for then they are less likely to bounce back to the SERPs quickly. Providing top quality, engaging and relevant content is likely to be crucial in remaining prominent in personalized SERPs.
3. Provide Fresh, Updated Content
While thinking about quality content its worth considering the frequency of updates that pages receive. Providing fresh, updated, relevant content is a great way to encourage people to revisit sites so this should be a top SEO priority.
4. Make it Easy to Bookmark
User actions, when viewing specific pages, are also likely to factor in the personalization of search results. One specific action that users might perform is bookmarking so it’s a good idea to make it as easy as possible for visitors to bookmark pages.
5. Don’t Overlook Universal Search
It’s not only important to take steps to optimize for prominence in the organic SERPs it’s also important to ensure that client sites are represented in other areas such as Google news, Google local, Google products, images and video. If Google is using signals from various data sources then the traffic attracted by images or video content may positively influence personalized results.
It has been suggested that any way in which visitors can be attracted to a site and given a good experience is likely to make a positive contribution towards improved ranking in personalized SERPs.
This guest post is written by Tony Goldstone, a Senior Search Engine Optimisation Engineer at FreshEgg.com. You can also do guestblogging here and share your SEO tips.