Do Tailored Search Results Affect Overall SERPs?
Google has made several steps to integrate Google+ as the backbone of things like YouTube, Gmail and even Google searches. The idea is that a detailed history of personal searches and other activities, one that can only be brought about by tailoring results according to a user’s unique history, will provide for a better overall experience and more accurate results.
The question that many webmasters have is how these tailored results affect things like overall searches. Do activities that have a direct affect on tailored result translate in some way to non-tailored results?
The answer is a simple “Yes.” It’s the reasons as to why that are a bit confusing.
Let’s explore what tailored results are, then see what evidence exists that supports tailored results affect overall SERPs.
Understanding Tailored Results
To understand how personalization may affect overall SERPs, it’s important to understand what tailored results are and how they work within their own little world.
When a person registers for a Google+ account by signing up for any of the services that Google has integrated with it, personalized search results are enabled by default. This means that most people who are logged in to Google use tailored results, unless they have specifically gone out of their way to disable it.
There are three key ways that personalized results are different from overall SERPs:
- Local-based results – These are results that appear based upon a user’s location as set in their Google+ profile. Unlike the usual local searches, the user does not need to specify a location in their search results for these to show up.
- Google +1s – Results with more +1s from people in a user’s Google+ network will show up higher than those without them. There may be some influence on search results even if the results with +1s are outside of the user’s network.
- Google Web History – Google records websites that a user has visited when looking through search results, then uses these as a basis for what results should show in a personalized search.
This means that personalized results not only affect individuals, but also the searches of people networked to them. As time progresses, this produces a positive result on your website, but only if enough people find that your website has the kind of content that they need.
The Persistence of Tailored Results
While the way that tailored results work on a personal basis is fairly obvious, the effect that it has on overall SERPs is somewhat tricky to understand.
Tailored results seem to affect anyone, including those who aren’t’ logged in to an account. While there are likely several factors that Google uses to track individuals while performing searches, which includes a person’s IP address and session data, it seems that tailored results persist even when someone logs out of their account and uses the incognito mode of Google’s search.
The bottom line is that, for the same user, even overall SERPs are affected by the factors that drive personalized results. This can make it tricky to optimize for when it comes to overall SERPs.
How Are Overall SERPs Affected?
You now understand how personalized results work and have a decent grasp of the factors that affect them. The question that remains concerns how personalized results affect overall SERPs.
The answer to “How do tailored results affect overall SERPS?” is a foggy one. Google has provided very little information as to how personalized results contribute towards overall SERPs, but there are a few factors that you can logically reason through to see how tailored results do affect overall SERPs.
Let’s examine the factors that influence SERPs outside of personalized searches.
1. Secondary Statistics that Impact Overall SERPs
One way that tailored results affect overall SERPs is through the use of secondary statistics. Statistics like bounce rates, click-through rates and other statistics that are impacted by searches regardless of their environment have an impact on overall SERPs.
These are still counted globally, which means that they affect fresh overall SERPs. This implies that, if you have enough success in tailored results, then you will begin to see a rise in your overall SERPs.
By focusing on improving the metrics Google has used for a number of years by leveraging better performance in tailored results, you can rest assured that these statistics will contribute to better overall SERPs performance.
2. Google+ Shares
When a user shares a link on their Google+ profile, the link gets posted as a do-follow link. This means it passes authority and PageRank, which in turn means that it will have an impact on all SERPs for that link.
Depending upon the text that a user adds within their share, it can affect things like keyword relevance and have a greater affect on SERPs.
As Google+ activity falls within the category of social networking activity, these signals will also contribute to the factors discussed in the next point.
3. Google Hummingbird
While many people consider the recent Google Hummingbird as just an update to Google, it’s actually a partial rewrite of the code that supports Google’s searches. It does more than to just help the search engine better interpret natural language queries.
It’s been instrumental in helping Google better understand signals pointing towards pages besides links. This means that things like social signals, social media buzz and a wide variety of signals that would otherwise remain unaccounted for before the Hummingbird update now directly influence search results.
While there’s little hard evidence to measure the effect that tailored searches and the new Google search algorithm have on overall SERPs, it’s not hard to reason that there must be some communication between the two. The impact of such communication should be more apparent than before the Hummingbird update, and their appearance should continue to increase as Google continues to try to make searching better for their users.
Is It Worth Investing in Personalized Results for Better Overall SERPs?
The answer to this question should be a resounding “Yes!” Google is constantly trying to improve the way their search engine algorithm works so that they can provide better results to their users, which means that they will continue to integrate new data, which includes the kind that drives personalized results, into their overall searches.
The only question left concerns how effective tailored results will be on elevating your website in overall SERPs. Depending upon the size of your website, the complexity of searches and the number of people searching for the terms your website targets, it could be that the impact is enough to propel your website towards the top SERP spots.
This will happen because the factors that drive personalized results tend to promote data that Google already uses to interpret how relevant results are to a user’s search. Things like a low bounce rate and high click-through rate fostered by tailored results will result in better overall performance in searches.
It stands to reason that by focusing on the factors that directly influence personalized results, you can promote your website to rank higher in SERPs. Investing in social networking, and not just Google+, and other signals that may not necessarily relate to links is a smart move for any website that wants to eventually reach the top of the SERPs.
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