By Alli Summerford
October 15, 2008
Search engine leader Google makes constant changes to its search algorithms in a never-ending effort to provide searchers with the most relevant results. This focus on user experience powered Google’s meteoric rise. And it is this very commitment to ongoing innovation that keeps it on top. With roughly 70% of the search market, Google is the standard bearer; but, the standards have recently changed: Google is now providing (or soon will be) personalized search results. What does this change mean, and what impact does it have on your business?
Personalized results are search results that are based on information that Google is able to gather about you. These customized results are designed for you and will differ from those provided to others searching with the same keywords. Factors Google takes into consideration in shaping these individualized results include your geographic location (determined by your IP address), the language used in search (a process Google recently patented), and web search and browsing history (particularly for those searching while logged into their Google account).
What This Means for You
For business and site owners, everything you were already doing (or should be doing) in your online marketing and SEO efforts still applies. But, instead of measuring SEO success in terms of #1-5 rankings in Google for specific phrases, goals for the site need to shift to more performance-based factors. Because the search results now vary from user to user in Google, having a particular ranking as your marketing target is no longer meaningful. The focus of your online marketing efforts needs to shift to improving your site’s performance, which may be measured by the amount of search-referred traffic to your site or the number of site conversions. A conversion or goal can be defined as sales, completion of an online contact form, sign up for a newsletter, or some combination of these metrics–whatever makes sense for your business. Understanding and defining what you want your site user to do and creating a site that encourages and measures that behavior is the real goal of your online marketing efforts. Google’s shift to personalized results does not change that. In fact, as a result of this change, Google should send more targeted and qualified traffic to your site, decreasing your bounce rates and increasing your conversions.
I will be calling each of my clients over the next few weeks to touch base and discuss plans and goals for the New Year. This topic will be one of the issues we discuss as it relates to your specific site. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns related to this topic or any other issue with your site, please drop me an email or give me a call at 205-298-7655.