Morning session at the SMX West Expo for the Social Media track: SearchWiki, Google Personalized Results and search customization based on previous queries or geographic location are all ways that Google’s “regular” results seem to be disappearing. This session looks at how “one-size-fits-all” results at Google are continuing to disappear, along with strategies on how to be successful in a more personalized results environment. Session moderated by Danny Sullivan.
Corey Anderson, Manager of SearchWiki at Google starts us off with definitions and uses of SearchWiki. A tool that lets users add, remove, re-rank and comment on results. These notes, aggregated, can be seen by others. Why did Google create SearchWiki? Large fraction of search is re-finding. In field studies and user studies – users want to bookmark, improving proper name searches, collect information on a task and refind hard to find information.
SearchWiki is being used for both very long tail searches and also more high volume searches. SearchWiki is still in development and some of the main changes include visual treatments. Bottom of every page includes a link to see notes and submissions. Could be huge opportunity for analytics, but still relatively low percentage of people using this. SearchWiki and Personalized don’t directly interact yet. A very confident description from Bryan is “explicit information trumps implicit information.”
Bryan Horling, Software Engineer at Google gives us the answers to why personalize searches? Many searches are ambiguous. Users want the right information as quickly as possible. Getting the right results sometimes require knowledge of the user or their context. This should be done with privacy-sensitivity in mind.
Search Details list the transparency of your personalized search. Upper right-hand corner of SERP will let users view changes and updates. Click through to modify or see results without personalized ranking. Control is given to users to manage their Web History. Login to your account and visit /history to modify, pause or delete your history tracking.
Regional localization is also part of the search metrics. Disambiguation can help promote like topics for recent searches. Ambiguous queries are ranked uniformly. Making results disambiguous means Google can also learn about your topics over time. If you were just searching for furniture, a search for Jordans would promote the furniture brand vs. the shoe brand for your SERP.
Google is experimenting with Preferred Sites as a choice of your results. This would help bookmark and find hard to find results in future.
What does this mean for SEM?
Harder to collect metrics and Harder to see how your pages rank. But, easier for people looking for your service to find you and easier to retain customers who prefer your business. #1 spot isn’t winner take all anymore. Could level the playing field.
The answer to remain high ranking is continue to provide compelling content and interesting content. Appeal to users and not search engines. You can control personalization for your searches. Ways to view without:
use search details, disable it by appending &pws=0 to searches, sign out, Firefox extensions, edit and/or turnoff web history.
Currently there are no direct connections between Search Wiki and AdWords. The search results and ranking must be really strong to override the standard results. It will always go back to best results for users. If new pages are created, and are valuable, it will be able to climb on those merits. Personalization will not insert or yank things out, possibly only re-rank them.