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Search Engine Personalization and SEO

Personal trainers. Personal shoppers. Everyone likes personal attention and having life tailored to what they want. And now search engines are getting into the personalization game. Google has said that their goal is totally personalized search results.  And that’s great. For users. For companies, and anyone who works in SEO, personalization makes things more difficult.

Google uses your search history, IP address, and set location to weight their results. So when you want to find the best burger in town, they know you’re in Cleveland and don’t tell you about the best burger in New York.

Bing is doing something similar, but with a twist. If you’re regularly going to Bing and searching for “white house” and clicking through to the clothing store White House Black Market, Bing will move that to the top of your results. Bing is going to figure out what you’re looking for and try to put it right in front of you.

So, what does all this mean for SEO?

It means there are no “real” or “true” rankings anymore. It used to be that rankings drove the industry; the end game was page 1, position 1. But now, my page 1 isn’t your page 1. Every search is different, tailored to the computer doing the searching

What now? Being local can be an advantage over being national. Claim your Google places listing and let Google know where you are and optimize your on page content. That way, when someone is looking for a burger in Cleveland, Google will know that you’re there. If Google is going to tailor results for where people are, make sure to emphasis where you are.

Spend more time thinking about who you want coming to your site and what they want. Focus on providing good content and a good user experience. Be informative, answer questions, and provide something of value on your site

And don’t pull your hair out over rankings. Just change your focus.