The Impact Of Personalized Search Results On SEO Strategies

by Emily on April 24, 2020

in Guest Posts

Google rolled out personalized search results for users back in 2009 and followed it by a detailed explanation of how it incorporated personalization in search in 2011. 

Not long after, Google started getting a bad rep for its personalized search feature, and competitors like DuckDuckGo used it as ammo, arguing that Google creates a “filter bubble” for searchers. They claimed that Google filters search results and keeps people in a bubble based on what its algorithms think users are likely to click on. It also carried out a study which found that Google personalizes search results even when users are logged out.

If you’re a search marketer, odds are you’re familiar with the ritual of running a Google search from an incognito browser to see the universal listing rather the personalized one.

Seeing the pushback from users, Google announced in 2018 that it is stepping back from the extent of personalized search. It told CNBC that “there’s little search personalization in Google Search rankings now and the personalization is limited to the users’ location or context from a prior search.”

Furthermore, Google dispelled a lot of myths surrounding the feature in a series of tweets, clearing the misconception that it does not personalize search results based on demographic profiles.

So, how does Google personalize search results?

According to Google, here are a few factors that influence search personalization:

Localization

Location is one of the most common reasons Google may provide different search results for different users. 

The search listings are customized to be relevant to individuals in a particular area. For instance, a searcher looking up ‘restaurants’ and ‘dentists’ in Dallas will get different results than someone in Chicago searching for the same thing. Google uses users’ IP address to track where they’re from. 

Language 

According to Google’s Danny Sullivan, ‘language and location’ are two main factors that drive search personalization. It makes perfect sense that a user who searches in French generally wants search results written in French, which is why Google personalizes results for language.

Dynamic Nature Of Search Results

Google’s data centers are continually updated with new information. In some cases, the reason why two people searching the same thing may come across slightly varied search results is because the data centers aren’t fully updated during that brief period of time. 

Device Type 

Google aims to make online search as smooth, easy, and as fast as possible. For this reason, it’s common that results that come up on mobile devices are different than those on laptops and desktop computers. Some websites are simply more mobile-friendly and faster to load than others, which gives them a leg up in search rankings. After all, we’re in a point in time when Google has actively rolled out mobile-first indexing

How SEOs Can Perform Better In Personalized Search Results

Now that we realize that potential visitors can get biased search results, let’s discuss some ways webmasters can include personalization optimization in their SEO strategy.

Optimize for Location

If you run a local business with a physical address, you need to make these target locations clear for both the people and the search engines. 

Optimize Local Listings

First and foremost, create a Google My Business listing if you don’t already have one. Make sure to add all your details including website name, address, phone numbers, photos, etc. Since Google takes all its information for knowledge graphs and local packs from these local listings, make sure all the information is consistent and updated. 

Moreover, make sure that your listings work ideally on smart phones, because nearly 80% of “near me” searches come from mobile. Plus, encourage your happy users for some reviews. 

In case you want to dig deeper, learn more about Local SEO for some details and hacks.

Track Rankings for Locations

Once you’ve optimized all web pages with your target locations, use a keyword rank checker tool like Rank Genie to track rankings for each location.

Rank Genie makes keyword rank tracking a breeze; it tracks keywords across multiple locations and devices, allowing you to monitor active changes in ranks and make data driven decisions to improve your ranking. 

Optimize For Languages

If your website serves an international audience, you need to work on international SEO. This includes using the appropriate country code top-level domain and applying hreflang attribute that indicates your site’s language to search engines. 

Use the rel=”alternate” hreflang to inform Google about the region and language variants. Doing so will help Google accurately crawl and index pages and prevent you from the problem of content duplication. 

Optimize For Devices

Optimizing for mobile should be your top priority, and the first thing you can do in this respect is to focus on a responsive web design and user-friendly navigation.

We recommend following Google’s guidelines for mobile-first indexing to avoid experiencing a drop in rankings due to mobile issues. Remember, search engines push mobile-friendly pages higher up in SERPs.

As mentioned earlier, use an SEO rank tracker tool to track desktop and mobile rankings separately, and keep optimizing for mobile. 

Additionally, in light of Google’s Mobile Speed Update, you need to ensure your pages load fast, preferably in less than 2 seconds.

Optimize For Search Intent

Google’s go-to advice to SEOs has always been to design and optimize content with the user in mind. Search engines rank web pages based on how well they match searcher’s intent.

Here are some ways you can optimize for search intent:

  • Your potential visitors are likely trying to search for your business using voice search. Since people tend to use natural language when talking to their voice assistants, your best shot is to optimize for long-tail keywords and questions. 
  • Mark up your content with structured data (e.g. creative works, local business, and events) to provide search engines with explicit clues about your page. Adding structured data markup can help you rank for rich snippets and knowledge graphs. 

 

  • Research your niche to come up with questions that your visitors are likely to ask, and create content that naturally answers those questions. Use internal links to create topical clusters and rank for multiple related queries.

Conclusion

Although Google’s personalized search results don’t go all out as they did in previous years, there are some factors that can alter what different users see in their search results, such as location, language, platform, and user intent.

So, make sure you’re incorporating personalization in your SEO strategy to help your target audience find you. 

Guest article written by: Andrew Wilson is an SEO analyst at Rank Genie. He loves to watch movies, listen to podcasts, and plan about launching his own podcast. He has helped the Rank Genie team shape their rank tracker and make it one of the most easy-to-use and SEO friendly tracker out there. You can find his blogs on www.RankGenie.com.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Erika Fuller April 27, 2020 at 06:49

This can be a very informative and helpful post, very genuine and practical advice. Is actually very great for all blog owner. Specially this article be helping to the fledgeling. i loved it , you put so unique content , this is amazing and so informative blog , thanks for sharing.

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Donald Jackson April 27, 2020 at 10:54

This is something good and new think about SEO to learn thanks for sharing this post with us this is really helpful.

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