Google Experiment Could Spark SEO Sea Change

    January 24, 2009

Google looks to be taking another step forward on the path towards personalized search.  Some users have been given access to a new option that allows them to identify sites they’d like to see more often on their results pages.

Think of it like this: do you regularly search for info on current events, only to sift through hundreds of sources for the same three or four you like best?  The preferred sites feature would let Google know that you want the BBC and CNN articles (for example) to be given more weight.  Or you could name a local news site that would otherwise be out of the running entirely.

Google Preferred

Google believes its concept of preferred sites can be applied to movie reviews, sports scores, and blogs, as well.  A help page implies that these wires won’t get crossed, saying, "[R]esults from your preferred sites will show up more often when they’re relevant to your search query" (emphasis ours).

So will the experimental feature be a win?  Well, it does require that users sign into their Google Accounts, which is a roadblock of sorts.  Then there’s the matter of making people take a few minutes to tinker with settings, which the average user generally doesn’t want to do.  Truth be told, even search pros might just prefer to type something like " braveheart" instead of futzing around behind the scenes.

The new preferred results feature could prove attractive to a few people, though.  More importantly, it could help Google decide how to make these sorts of distinctions on an automatic basis, too.  This might lead to a sea change in the SEO industry, as Bruce Clay forecast in an interview with Mike McDonald.  Different people would see different results and traditional rankings would mean much less.

Anyway, a hat tip goes to Alex Chitu.