Google Gets Personalized
Have you ever become overwhelmed by the number of documents
accessible via a search engine? If you're like most people,
then you probably have. There are often millions of results
and not every result is likely to be of equal importance to
In addition to that, there is also ambiguity of language. Words
often have multiple meanings and people can have different
interpretations of the same word. How does a search engine know
the difference? Well, at this point, they don't.
They certainly can't read your mind so the only other
alternative is to track your online activities in order to
custom tailor your search results based on your recorded
Google is one of the first major search engines to test this
new technology. They have released a total of 15 new patent
applications this month in relation to this very endeavor.
Actually, I'm not too surprised that Google is taking a closer
look at personalization. Google has already begun testing many
of these new search features in Google's personalized search
(www.google.com/psearch), which is currently in beta.
Traditional algorithmic search engines have reached their peak.
Personalized search is a natural and necessary progression for
Google and other search engines as well. Some alternative search
engines have already taken the lead in this endeavor. Eurekster
(www.eurekster.com/) is one of the main ones that comes
to mind, using a searchers history to bring them more relevant
Here is an abstract from one of the Google patents entitled,
"Systems and methods for analyzing a user's web history"
"A user's prior searching and browsing activities are recorded
for subsequent use. A user may examine the user's prior
searching and browsing activities in a number of different ways,
including indications of the user's prior activities related to
advertisements. A set of search results may be modified in
accordance with the user's historical activities. The user's
activities may be examined to identify a set of preferred
locations. The user's set of activities may be shared with one
or more other users. The set of preferred locations presented
to the user may be enhanced to include the preferred locations
of one or more other users. A user's browsing activities may
be monitored from one or more different client devices or
client application. A user's browsing volume may be graphically
Now, let's talk about all of that in English. Over time, we
develop a history of search queries, selected results that were
clicked on, advertisements that were clicked on, and a multitude
of other browsing activities. Each of these actions reflect our
preferences and interests. Other examples of user activity
Google may begin tracking include instant messaging, word
processing, particpation in chat rooms, and internet phone calls.
Talk about an invasion of privacy. Unfortunately, we don't have
enough time to get into that issue.
Within the proposed system, users are able to access their past
searching and/or browsing activities to enhance their experience.
Each of their online activities gives clues to what they might
ultimately be looking for or related areas of interests.
In addition, users can also modify their profile information to
better represent their interests. For example, a user may delete
a search query from his/her history or he/she could also provide
updated information as to new areas of interest.
One of the most interesting aspects of the patent filings
involves the re-ranking of search results according to the
After a query is made and the results are received, they are
then adjusted based upon information from the user's history.
The order of the search results can be adjusted in accordance
with a history score and/or any user modified result score.
Search results can also be ordered based upon the combined
search result score and the history score to come up with
A searcher may also be shown an indication of previously visited
pages among the SERPs, including information such as the date
and time a page was previously visited and the number of times
that the user has visited the site within a certain period of
A certain number of the most highly ranked results that the user
has previously visited may be displayed in a region above the
search results for easy access (kind of like memorized
favorites). They could also be displayed in another section of
the page, or even in a separate window.
These previously visited pages may be ordered based upon a
number of different ranking criteria, including the history
score, pagerank, time of last access, number of accesses, etc.
A user's browsing activities may also play a part in the ranking
of search results. For example, if a website was previously
visited by the user, it could have its score boosted based upon
the number of times the user has visited that particular website.
Google may also track how long a visitor stays at any given
website. A site that is bookmarked and visited frequently will
almost always rank higher.
On the other hand, search results that were previously presented
to searchers but not clicked through could be lowered in the
What does this mean for you as a webmaster and SEO? It means
that your focus should be on quality. In creating your website,
you must emphasize visitor optimization and content optimization
over search engine optimization.
The visitor always comes first and you must create a valuable
experience for them. Allow them to quickly and easily bookmark
your website. Give them a reason to hang out for a while,
whether it be a forum, lots of great content, or fun quizzes.
The future of SEO is about creating quality, authority sites.
Kim Roach is a staff writer and editor for the SiteProNews
(www.sitepronews.com) & SEO-News (www.seo-news.com)
newsletters. You can also find additional tips and news on
webmaster and SEO topics by Kim at the SiteProNews blog
(blog.sitepronews.com/). Kim's email is:
kim @ seo-news.com