Home Local SEO What is Google Personalized Search?

What is Google Personalized Search?

google search results

What is Google Personalized Search?

Google Personalized Search provides a more personalized search experience based on your personal history. Google Semantic Search seeks to provide the best results based on what Google knows about you including your network of contacts, previous searches, social shares, current trends, use of connecting words and geographical location.

Google+ is not just another social network. It is unlike other conventional social networks which are generally accessed through a single website. The network consists of not just a single site, but rather an overarching “layer” that has been integrated into every aspect of Google’s properties.

Like Facebook and other social networks, other users of Google+ can comment on things you post, interact with each other, read, share posts, videos, and photos. Google+ also allows users who mention your brand to be able to tag (identify) your business when they are talking about you. With Google integrating Search, Drive, YouTube, Chrome, Gmail and all of its other properties into its social network, it is increasingly clear that Google+ is now at the heart of the Google experience.

Search, Plus Your World

Search, plus your world was introduced in January 2012, and is at the heart of the G+ experience. One of the features provided by Search, Plus Your World is Personal Results. With Search, plus Your World, people are drawn in from all the Google products, and when they are logged into Google+, their behaviour on the different Google properties such as Search, Maps, Images, etc. is tracked.

Google aims to personalize search results by including Google+ data when people are signed into their personal results iconGoogle account, so when a user logs into the network, Google alerts users with a message – “Welcome to “Search, plus Your World”!” – but also provides a toggle so you can switch back to non-personalized search if you choose to do so.

You’ll know you are in Search, plus Your World if you see a switchable icon at upper right with a silhouette and a globe.

People are at the heart of the G+ experience, and what a user’s connections engage with and recommend is more important to ranking on the Google search results page for that user. By default, the “Personal Results” view is what appears. The view personalizes the listings you get based on both your own behavior and social connections.

Social Signals

Google+ looks at social signals – what you share, what you comment on, and what you click on. And then it feeds that information back to the Google search engine. So, when you do a search on Google, the search engine can provide a much more personalized search experience with images, posts, profiles, business Pages, video and more from your friends and connections on social networks, as well as prioritized content from brands and authors that have been endorsed by your social connections and other influential users on G+.

Illustration of Google+
Google Personalized Search allows local businesses to show up more prominently in searches made by their connections.

Google Semantic search seeks to provide the best results based on what Google knows about you including your network of contacts, previous searches and social shares, current trends, use of connecting words, and geographical location.

How Personalized Search Works

Consider the following example: say you are interested in personal recommendations for the top plumbers in North London. You are not logged into G+ at this point. If you do an organic Google search, you’ll get a list of the top ranking plumbing sites on the first page of Google. Thing is, how do you know the best plumber to pick out of the list?

Well, if you are registered on G+ and are logged in when you perform the search, you’ll also get a list of plumbers that have been personally recommended by your friends and social connections, and by others within the social network. This is essentially social proof. You’ll actually notice a little blue head-and-shoulders icon next to any results that indicates they are personalized results – as in the above screenshot.

A user’s search history is used by the search engines to figure out what types of results to show the searcher. So a user’s search history will affect what a user sees, that no one else will see, based on their personalization. If you are is logged into your Google+ account when performing a search, Google will take into account your location, known personal preferences and past history of search patterns in order to help find results that are most relevant and personalized to them.

This means that the same keywords used in a search query can yield different results to each user based on their unique circumstances, their location, their social profile and likely intent. Consequently, a user searching in London will likely see different results from a seacher in Manchester, even though they might searching on exactly the same keywords.

Understanding the Value of Personalized Search

Google Personalized Search presents a powerful marketing opportunity for local businesses. Google+ can impact searches on the Google search engine in a way that no other social media site can do. It impacts search based on the relationship you have with other people that are logged into any of the Google properties such as Google search, Google Drive, YouTube, etc.

As a local business, if you have a lot of connections on Google+ (where you are connected to each other), your products or services will show up higher in the search results when those connections are logged into Google personalize search and conduct relevant searches for the products and services that you sell. This means that if you’re able to market yourself effectively on Google+ and get people to follow your business, your content will appear prominently in their search results.

Consider the following example:

Patrick is connected to you and to Abiye who is only connected to Patrick, but not you. This means that Patrick will see your content in the search results because of that connection. However, Abiye will get to see Patrick’s search results as well as your content even though he is only connected to Patrick but not to you.

Google shows Abiye your content on the basis of his connection to Patrick, and assumes that since Patrick likes your content and Abiye is connected to Patrick, Abiye will like the things that Patrick likes, so he gets to see your content as well. This means that if 100 other people connect to Patrick, all of those 100 people will see your content on the basis of your connection to Patrick. Essentially, the more people you are connected to on Google+, the more of your content they will see.

Google predominantly uses Google+ for personalized search, but it also looks at other social networks such as Twitter and other social sites to index the information it needs to better understand the relationships between the people’s profiles it has in its index. This emphasizes the importance of having a Google + profile in the first place and engaging in some Google+ interaction as part of your social media marketing efforts.

It is significant to note that even when you are not logged in to your Google account, Google uses some stored cookies and your IP address to deliver a more tailored search experience, particularly where location-aware or device-aware services are concerned. This should be taken into account when a search engine optimization campaign is planned.