How Personalized Search Should Affect Blogging Strategies for Ranking

This is a guest post by Leo Dimilo who has been an online marketer for over a decade and has quietly been earning a living online.

A couple years ago, I wrote an SEO article for Kristi and Kikolani called unlock your marketing genius to make money online. In the article, I was very critical on social media as a means to make money online because, as I put it, the social crowd were readers rather than “buyers”.

Fast forward to today and I am ready to eat crow.

Why the sudden turnaround?

Over the past few months, I have noticed several search signals that are currently affecting Google’s search engines. The search experts for the most part, agree that retweets and likes affect ranking, especially when these signals become viral. But one thing that very few people are talking about is personalized search and how it could affect who sees what and more importantly, is the reason why expanding your reach in social media may be an effective way to actually ranking in the search engines.

Why Social Should Suddenly Matter to Bloggers and Marketers Alike

The image to the right is a search query that I did for the search term “blogging”.

There are a couple items that should interest you. (click the image to enlarge)

  1. Problogger (who already ranks for the search term) shows up as usual BUT Darren Rouse, whom I follow in a couple of my marketing circles shared this and search shows it.
  2. 2 spots down, Kikolani shows up. In the image, you will see that Google shows that I have visited this blog 3 times in the past.
  3. A few more spots down, yet another spot is taken up by kikolani, this time because Kristi Hines suggested it (and I have her in my social network.)

While this may not be that earth-shattering what should be is that Kikolani does not rank for Blogging yet she has 2 spots filled for the search query.

More importantly, this means that 2 other websites that were ranking for Blogging have disappeared. Out of sight. Out of mind.

While I may never buy anything from Kristi (no offense Kristi), what Kristi has done by simply being a part of my social network is expanded her reach toward me, personally but just as importantly, expanded her reach beyond me into my circles and my social clusters. So, while I may never buy something on Kikolani, I may be exposing my friends to Kikolani not only through social channels but also search channels.

What influence will I personally have on my friends and followers search results if I were to share some of Kristi’s articles on twitter or Google Plus?

Will my influence show up when they do a search for something that is relevant to something that I shared?

How will this give a blogger who is entrenched in his/her market and is engaged an edge over another blogger who is essentially not social and instead depending on links to carry them to rankings?

What this should mean.

Personalized search is a game changer and should help shift focus away from marketers gouging search with meaningless links in an attempt to rank for their keywords. In the not so distant past, the link authority that was passed was done so via a very limited scope; the webmaster. But what if what you and your friends and followers link to ultimately decide what search means just for you.

Can anyone say your own personal list of rankings?

If this is the case, priorities for ranking will probably shift from linking to rank to expanding your reach in social channels and getting shared to rank. If this is the case, the ones with the largest engaged social following will win.

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  1. says

    This is really interesting. I’ve been pleased recently that posts from my blog are showing up on the first page of Google for certain search terms. Is this just because it’s me searching for them? Is Google showing me results from my own blog because I regularly visit my own blog? Does this mean the thousands of other searchers searching these terms are getting different results? That would certainly explain my less-than-stellar google traffic stats!
    Karen just posted Ten Freelance Writing Tools for $10 or Less

  2. says

    Totally with this. It’s no secret! If you’re around, and you’re communicating with a lot of people, you’re going to do better. I like the idea of a search/social balance anyway! Links are great. But people knowing about what you’re doing, and being moved by it enough to share it, is becoming king.

  3. says

    This goes to show that through social networks the reach can be tremendous and if you are posting quality content that goes viral within social networks, that the products and services basically sell themselves.

  4. says

    I was searching “blogging” yesterday just to out how Google plus put on effect on the search results. I saw friends on G+ sharing or recommending some sites shown on the search results.

    That makes me think that it definitely has potential to influence me what I decide to click, because some of my friends recommend/share them! When more people start their G+, the effect will be a lot stronger.

    Having said that, my friend list on Facebook are still far outweight G+…Only time can tell…

    Ming Jong Tey just posted Keyword Research With Google In 7 Ways

  5. says

    I really don’t like this personalized results thing. It screws up everything we have been doing for years. Like you said, Kikolani replaced two legitimate websites that should have ranked for the keyword ‘blogging’. It’s true that you are seeing Kikolani only because someone on your social network recommended the site, but then other users who are not on your network or not following Kikolani will see some website in its place. Everytime that happens, some legitimate website loses its ranking. Since almost everyone is into social network, this happens more often than you think.

    Getting more social is not the solution because it is impossible to get everyone following your website.
    Kaushik just posted Intel Offers Software Upgrade For Locked Sandy Bridge CPUs

    • says


      I understand where you are coming from. But you have to realize there are 2 things happening.

      1. The ‘baseline’ search rankings- these rankings are the “old school” rankings based on link merit.

      2. The social and personalized search rankings- these rankings change according to your network and your surfing preferences.

      So, you need them both.

      Search marketers hate them because ranking has suddenly tilted into the territory of having to do more than manufacturing links (and let’s face it, that’s how most search marketers rank).

      People who actually rank based on unsolicited merit will do better naturally because they have real people already giving links to them. The result are actual functional search rankings that are based on real links given.

      Like it or not, it isn’t likely going away and will require you to start to rethink search marketing strategies.
      Leo Dimilo just posted The non technical version of understanding “REL=Author” Markup.

  6. says

    Hi Leo,

    I am not really sure if it is a good thing or bad thing to have such a personalized result. One the one hand, I probably found what I was looking for fast. On the other hand I wanted to see those other sites too. I should be given opportunity to have personalized result in my opinion.
    I think , I currently rank #1 on “thoughts entrepreneurship”.

    Thanks for your share.
    Ashvini just posted Key for entrepreneur’s survival in early years: Cash Flow vs profit

  7. says

    I’ve known about personalized search but never thought about it in these terms. So I did my own Google search for blogging and, like you I found Darren and Kristi, and also Ana Hoffman from Traffic Generation Cafe. What’s interesting is that I have purchased products from all 3 of these people.

    Thanks Leo for shedding some light on this important aspect of searching. Perhaps it’s time I spent a little time over on Facebook! :-)
    Dr. Bob Clarke just posted My Online Marketing Confession: I Was an Arrogant Fool!

  8. says

    >>In the article, I was very critical on social media as a means to make money online because, as I put it, the social crowd were readers rather than “buyers”.

    Very funny! It’s courageous of you to reveal that you made such a prediction!! None of us could truly predict the effect and inevitable ubiquity of social media and how it would change the entire media landscape.

  9. says

    I hav enevr paid so much attention to personalized search in fact as i thought it was another tool from Google. But in reallity in turns out to be very influientional. Sounds very interesting and I think I personally need to research a bit to know how things are in my case.

  10. says

    Search has been in a pretty bad place for a couple of years where ads, SEO and Spam took over most of the pages but Google do seem to be improving things in recent months and this is a good example of the innovative things they are trying. In fairness to them it is a pretty tough ask ranking all the web pages in the world while keeping advertisers happy and spammers out! They are not doing too bad!

  11. says

    Leo, the way our social networks is influencing the search results don’t you think think this will give death to the SEO, when no matter how much your site is ranking up in the search engines the users will only see the sites on which their network is up to. Do you think that showing the search results to the users which are based on his network activities will help him to find the exact information?
    Umair Abid just posted How To Make Right Use of Yahoo Answers

  12. says

    Hi Leo,

    If you want true rankings then you need to change your search string. You need to turn off your personalised results. Not sure I can use links here but this is what you should do to switch of personalised results
    Replacing YOURSEARCHTERM with whatever you are looking for. I got fooled for a while that I ranked on the first page in google with no traffic (Auch)

    At this stage I think there is not enough evidence this really has to do with social reach rather then personalised search results. What I mean is what influence do you have on her circles and vice versa. I would love to see some extensive testing. Since I now posted here lets see if I get a similar result for blogging? And would my followers now get different results for blogging too and what about theirs. If someone can work out the mechanisms that would be great!
    Nik just posted Career Advice

  13. says

    This is really an interesting article. These past few weeks I’ve noticed my first page search results changing. Sometimes my friends who have +1 something shows up and sometimes things that I’ve +1ed show up. Even more now, with the new way google maps will be/is running seems like it’s going more and more “to the source,” and by that I mean, people. What people are talking about, liking, tweeting, etc… Things could get really tricky for SEO marketers in the new few years if google keeps coming out with more tools and then links them all together.
    Robert just posted Highway 49: Hit-and-Run Head-on Collision in Auburn