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December 23, 2008

Personalized Search and Your SEO Firm

When looking at Google, one is struck by the somewhat Orwellian nature of entering a search term and being watched by Big Brother in a dispassionate, detached yet interested manner. When looking at the patterns people use in searching, it does come close to that totalitarian character from the George Orwell novel, 1984, but that is the truth of our times. Google is neither good nor evil. It just IS, and with that realization, people should adapt to the new SEO frontiers and how to not only deal with but capitalize on the wealth of information that search engines collect.

Let’s drop the Big Brother analogy, because when we started looking for things on the Internet, that became just another part of our paradigm shift towards the belief that anything we searched for on the Net was just out of our reach in the search results. Collecting data and disseminating it is a fact of life. As a business, one should rapidly get used to the idea and seek constructive, professional ways to harness this power. Because, in this case knowledge is truly power, and if you or a company that you hire can get a handle on the niche you want to control and dominate to deliver your sales message or well-placed, online advertising, then you’re ready to watch your sales double, quadruple and more.

The true value an SEO expert on staff or a firm that understands the value of search engine optimization can transform your company. The concept is really very simple: put your company, product or service in the traffic or search results of people who are looking for your product or service. That’s it. Success on the Internet.

When you look at it that way, it doesn’t appear to be so hard to conquer. What you may fail to realize is that there are millions of companies and businesses out there that have already realized this fact and have gone on to seek their fortune in that realm. You will need an edge, something that most of your competitors lack.

This is where the basic principle of personalized search comes into play. You see, whether you’re a millionaire or Joe-Nobody surfing the Net, every time you query Google or any other search engine for information, that query data is stored in a database. It is then tabulated, and cross-tabulated with other things you and others have searched for. On a personal level, the search engines build a profile of your search habits over time. Like artificial intelligence, the search engines long to understand you, your interests and habits. As you search and surf, you will begin to see an eerie thing happen – more and more relevant search results will begin to pop up as you type.

Before you run screaming back into the dark ages, this is a good thing. For example, if you’ve shown an interest in fishing while our neighbor searches for musical instruments. When you search for “bass”, the search engine will begin to return fishing results, while your neighbor who searches for the exact same term, “bass” will get back musical instruments that are relevant to him – bass fiddles, bass drums, etc. This is personalized search results.

Now that you understand the concept, let’s talk about how you can use it in your business in order increase sales in your business. These personalized search results, you need to either learn or hire an SEO firm that is familiar with this major shift in how search engine optimization is going. Google is currently testing the waters with this form of personalization, and you need to be signed up with one of their services in order to get this kind of personalization. Theses services include: Adwords, Google Toolbar, Gmail and the like. Through these various forums, Google is learning about you and your preferences.

When you search through Google, it places a cookie which is a unique identifier on your machine. It doesn’t do anything, but identify you as a user of their service. No biggie, right? It will be just as easy for them to use this technology to collect user data in order to personalize your search. Right now, they’re waiting to see if there’s screaming in the streets from users who abhor any kind of data collection. More than likely, it will go by unnoticed by most. As a business, you need to be on the cutting edge of this new technology and have either an expert or a firm working towards utilizing this major upgrade in order to take you to the next level of the Internet.

Truly good search engine optimization firms are already preparing for this major shift, using things like “clean” machines for data collection and in how they report on Google’s ranking of data to their clients. Clean machines are one’s that have had no Google programs or cookies dropped on it. This will be a baseline machine with results for the client that are delivered as a snapshot of what they user would see if their machine was Google-less.

First, the good news. Account holders with the search engine giant will probably not be deluged with certain products based on their profiles, but their entire surfing and querying history will be reviewed and results will be skewed toward the user’s industry.

Then, there’s the bad news. Search engine optimization firms will have a rough time trying to demonstrate these results because the client will more than likely be using a Google program on personal machines, so the results won’t match with the SEO firm.

What all this means is that the company needs to establish a level of trust in the professional skills of the firm they choose. In return, the SEO firm needs to take the time to explain in detail how the new search engine results work showing how these results can appear totally different from machine to machine and why this happens. As well, the firm needs to have the technical skill to be able to delve into the client’s machine, look at the current cookies onboard and explain how this is affecting what results they’re getting.

When setting up a campaign, companies will have to take more into account when starting out. Having a good SEO firm onboard will simplify this latest level of complexity quite a bit. Being able to utilize personal search results and consumer profiles is just a step away, and it takes a high-level of skill to deal with it effectively.

Randy Zlobec – Visit RZ Concepts to read more about Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization