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Search and SEO Personalization: Lost in the Shuffle

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What is not lost with the personalization of search:

Important components of search marketing have always been and will always be increasing quality traffic, increasing sales, and increasing profit. These are the ultimate indicators of success for any search marketing campaign. The introduction of personalized results for users does not change the importance of these indicators or goals in any way.

Notwithstanding the above comments, what should not get lost in the cacophony of opinions about the personalization of search is the fact that something significant is different in this new era. What you have with personalized search results is not a totally different set of pages returned from user to user for the same search, but rather a shuffling of the results. If the former were the case, then search engines would need a different algorithm for each user.

What is lost with the personalization of search:

This shuffling is what poses the main challenge to search engine optimization. The challenge posed is that you won’t have just one ranking anymore. The all important indicator upon which traditional rank checking depends is lost in the shuffle. Traditional rank checking is not connected directly to the important indicators of success first mentioned above. However, if you are not successful in getting the kind of traffic from natural search that you need, the solution is higher visibility which means higher positioning.

When you cannot tell where you are positioned (or if that notion becomes meaningless), you will need another means of determining your competitive strength for your target keyphrases. Typically, you achieve greater organic traffic from search engines by pursuing higher positioning in the results list. Traditionally, the pursuit of higher positioning relies on examining a number of competitors positioned above you, an attempt to discern from that examination important elements of the search engine’s algorithm, and leveraging that information to improve the caliber of your pages.

If knowing who is positioned where gets lost in the shuffle, you can peruse your traffic analytics and sales driven from the organic search results all day long and that won’t tell you what specific search engine optimization steps to implement that will improve the competitive strength of and increase the visibility of your pages. The analytics will only tell you if you are doing well or poorly at getting the right traffic, but not why you are doing poorly or how to do better at getting the right traffic. That has traditionally been the role of methods and tools that rely on rank checking. To the degree that the search results are shuffled by personalization, to that same degree those methods and tools are adversely affected.

The effectiveness of those methods and tools gets lost in the shuffle.

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About the Author

Michael Marshall is CTO/COO and co-founder of Fortune Interactive and has over 17 years experience in information technology covering a wide range of specialties including: web design, software engineering, e-commerce solutions, artificial intelligence, and Internet marketing. He has degrees in Linguistics, Philosophy and Theology. Before Fortune Interactive, he was working on a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Virginia working in the area of semantics.

Search and SEO Personalization: Lost in the Shuffle
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About Michael Marshall
Michael Marshall is CTO/COO and co-founder of Fortune Interactive and has over 17 years experience in information technology covering a wide range of specialties including: web design, software engineering, e-commerce solutions, artificial intelligence, and Internet marketing. He has degrees in Linguistics, Philosophy and Theology. Before Fortune Interactive, he was working on a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Virginia working in the area of semantics. WebProNews Writer
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