Google's Personalized Search: is it real?

Mon 22 February 2010 14:55, Barry Adams

Google's Personalized Search: is it real?

Back in December of last year Google announced it would be rolling out its Personalized Search feature to all its users. Searchcowboys has written before about the pro's and cons of Personalized Search, but what has the true impact been so far?

Two months on one thing stands out most: change has been minimal. On the websites I manage we've seen no major shift in clickthrough behaviour on search engine traffic.

Keyword ranking metrics had already been mostly obsolete thanks to local and universal search, and with Social Search also adding to the mix on SERPs on top of personalized search, we can now perhaps finally say goodbye to keyword rankings as a valid SEO metric. (Or can we?)

But is personalized search really such a big deal as most of us first assumed? Privacy issues aside, is personalized search really having any impact at all on SERPs?

Many SEO blogs have conducted their own experiments on what exactly personalized search does. While far from conclusive these tests (SEOmoz, Huomah, SEO 2.0) do seem to show that the effect of personalized search is minimal at best, or perhaps even entirely non-existent.

Two months doesn't seem like a very long time, so perhaps we're jumping to conclusions. But two months can be an eternity in the fast-moving realm of the Internet. Is personalized search just another hype? Is Google just being careful with the roll-out? Is it even active at all? Or are we as SEOs simply not clear on what exactly personalized search does and doesn't do?

For now the old adage seems to be proved true once again: 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.'

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