Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on February 17th, 2009

SEO Wild Card - Personalized Search

searchwiki_0.pngMay I ask you a personal question: When was the last time you ‘googled’ it? My guess is you did very recently. When you did ‘google’ it, did you notice anything different? See anything new or unusual? Chances are your company’s search ranking could have been jeopardized by a icon. It could have come from that late night poker game a few weeks ago or the fireball that flew over our office yesterday here in Austin. One thing is for sure: Google played a wild card against SEO in the perverbial game of cards in search with its release of its new SearchWiki. Account users can customize their online search results with personal rankings, deletions, and notes. These search rankings, deletions and notes are viewable to other users on Google and have been since last November.

Picture this: You have been working hard with an effective SEO strategy for several months, maybe even a few years, to gain and maintain top ranking on Google. Then with one click of a button you are moved down. Or even worse, deleted. Removed from any future search by that user forever. A potential conversion is gone. Personalized search not only could get you deleted from someone’s search results, but it makes it harder to collect metrics. Personalized search results are password protected.

Now picture this: Someone is searching for something and knows the site they are looking for, they have the ability to click the SearchWiki icon and move the result higher on the returned list... every time. It’s easier to find the second, third or thirteenth time. If this web site is yours, you just gained search ranking with a particular Google account user, return visits and business, and possibly a lifetime customer. This is not only great for your conversions, it may be good for your poker game.

Despite the personalized password protection, SearchWiki allows Google the ability to conduct user studies in the field and crunch user feedback through comments and personalization. After only a few months, Google has discovered that large percentage of its users are attempting to re-find websites they have previously visited. The ability to add, delete, comment and re-rank search results was also found to be a popular feature.

I hope I didn’t alarm you. This is no time to freak out and fire your SEO guy, nor is it time to go buy an old Kenny Loggins record (ever). This is not the end of search optimization or the end of its effectiveness. In fact, please don’t repeat that sentence within ear shot of my assistant, Amy. She could get very upset and we’re low on kleenex. If someone deletes you from their search ranking page, most likely they weren’t going to convert anyway. You have to get noticed in the first few pages to getting bumped up or down which means you were given somewhat of a chance. Personalized search is a new evolution of the internet. SEO and Volacci will be there to adapt to it.

Volacci. Your Profit. Our Passion.

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