Google’s announcement of personalized search for everyone has stirred a lot of mixed reactions from the search industry. Eric Schmidt’s interview on CNBC has even provoked various sentiments on privacy issues. I think Aaron Wall of SEOBook.Com has an excellent take on this one.
Personally, I agree with Kalena Jordan’s conclusion on whether or not SEO can exist beyond personalization, in which she said:
Personalization has been in place on Google for over 4 years. This isn’t a new algorithm, it’s simply a new delivery mechanism. It’s important to remember that a large number of Google users are logged in to a Google account of some kind when conducting searches anyway, so they won’t even notice the difference. The other thing to keep in mind is that personalization is all about relevance and usability.
And then there’s the launch of Real-Time search results from Google (just a few days after the rollout of personalized search). So expect conversations your favorite social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to show up in your respective search results. However, I wasn’t surprise to see some questionable results in the early stages.
But I won’t go on explaining what these two features mean for Search Engine Optimization. After a few weeks of reading experts’ views on the topic, by now you already know what it does for our users, what challenges it poses to us SEO’s, and what benefits Google gains out of these intriguing additions.
Instead let me show you how we can still win the battle for search rankings with these new set of rules. Why don’t we explore our weapons in modern warfare?
1. Quality Content with Value – Ever since I started out as a SEO content writer 4 years ago, I’ve always been a believer in the “Content is King” school of thought. But SEO has evolved so much that great content may not be enough. Thus, you have the popular viral content and link baiting trends. I believe in today’s context, content should be beyond quality, relevancy and link worthiness.
Let’s just say you’re a movie website and you want to drive visitors to your AVATAR page (oh Yes, It was phenomenal!). Typically, you’d be providing a brief synopsis of the film, movie ratings, and screening times. Will that be enough? Well you should throw in a video trailer, a listing of local cinemas in the area featuring the film, movie reviews from selected bodies like Rotten Tomatoes, tickets and seats reservation system, or maybe a list snack items your visitors might want to grab while watching (maybe that’s a bit too much, but hey it’s possible). You don’t have to be a one-stop shop website, but your site must be what your customers need and even more.
Great content will not be merely something to read and understand. Great content will be something tangible, something that customers can act upon, something that entices emotion, something that is real and beyond just characters in a white space.
2. Increase ClickThrough Rate – Personalized search will mean effectively manipulating influencing your users to click on your listing. Of course you can always conduct your own tests and come up with your own tactics to exploit personalized search.
Here’s one simple tip: improve your page titles and your meta descriptions. These elements will reflect how you’ll appear on the SERP’s. Your description should inform your customers who you are and what you can deliver. If you can add a call to action line in less than 160 characters of your description, you’re off on a great start.
If you can capture your customers in the first 3 lines of your search listing, you’re definitely a mile ahead of the competition.
3. Brand & Online Reputation Management – When we do research on certain topics, we tend to look for sources coming from brands even though they might be beyond page 1 of our searches. In the same way we try to avoid clicking through listings which come from dubious providers despite their top positions in the results pages. The reason being – TRUST. People trust brands. People trust businesses, individuals, and groups who have made the effort of developing their brands and delivering no less than the best to their customers.
You may have won the battle for the top rankings but if you’re sitting beside the big fish in your niche market, they’ll definitely choose the neighboring giant.
4. Get Active on Social Media – This goes without saying. Even before rumors of real-time search came to life, marketing, PR, and online professionals have taken advantage of social media to its fullest potential. Well for those who haven’t, now is the time to get cracking on social media optimization (SMO).
If not for real-time search, then you’ve got more reasons to embrace social media in 2010.
It would be naïve for us to think that we didn’t see this coming. Personalized and real-time search was definitely the next step for Google (and probably for the rest of the search engines). And we, as SEO’s, are expected to rise up to the occasion to do what we do best – to quickly adapt to the environment and to deliver the right results.
Dave is currently working as an SEO Analyst for Nurture3, and online marketing company based in Dubai, leading a team of junior SEO?s optimizing in-house web projects. He is also the author of Click-Dubai.Com, which talks about the basic functions of organic search engine optimization and its importance in the Middle East & GCC markets.