Everybody understands SEO, don’t they?
It’s a simple concept sure enough. If you want your internet business to succeed, it needs to be noticed. To get the attention you want you’ll need to raise your ranking on the search engines using a variety of different means from keyword optimisation, directory listing, social media marketing and creating decent backlinks. The beauty of seo is that to make it work you don’t have to be a large company: there are lots of smaller enterprises who’ve successfully managed to improve their rankings just through sheer effort and determination. Obviously if your business is loaded then the task can become that little bit easier. You can always pay someone else to do it, or you can always purchase your backlinks. However, there’s a new trend in town and if left unchecked it could completely ruin what many small and medium businesses have endeavoured to achieve. It’s called personalised searching, and if you’re looking for someone to blame, you need look no further than Facebook and Google.
So, what is it with this personalised searching stuff?
Why’s it necessary. Well Facebook and Google think it’s what you want, and I suppose to some extent they have a point. Internet surfing is becoming ever-more personal. If you’re hooked into Facebook, you’ll have friends who share their memories and opinions with you: maybe you’re even part of a group. At first the change was kind of insidious, but it’s now got up a head of steam. Look at the adverts on the side bar of your profile, or simply look at some of the topics and updates that pop up in your news feed. Notice anything? Yes, that’s right, they’re personalised – well to a large extent anyway. Facebook’s algorithm looks at your profile and interests and its advertising reflects this. You might not think that’s all that important, but it will have repercussions in the longer term.
Now Google too is jumping on the bandwagon, not just with the launch of + 1, but also with its stated intention of making its search results more intuitive and personalised. Increasingly Google search results are becoming filtered, to the extent that what you’ll see is what you’ll probably like, and what you don’t see, or would probably have expected to see has simply vanished. So why is this? Well, it’s all part and parcel of Google’s Panda update and its agenda to make search more relevant. There’s a reputed 57 signals within the algorithm that Google uses to determine who gets to see what, like age, sex, search history, frequency of searches and the advanced use of search functions. These will, apparently, determine the type of search results you’re likely to receive. Google and Facebook to some extent are guilty of only feeding us news that it thinks will be relevant to us, and that generally means more local results.
Mark Zuckerberg famously said not that long ago:
“A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.”
If that isn’t bad enough Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, also added:
“It will very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.”
So: why is this such a big deal? Are these companies not just giving the customers what the customers want? Well, look at it this way: if you or I search for information on say India and holidays, or any other subject for that matter, the chances of us both getting the same set of search results is unlikely. Yours will be tailored to your search history and the like, and so will mine. What this means is that all those people who’ve spent time pounding away to get their search rankings increased through seo and by providing good content, may in the long run have been wasting their time. It’s hard enough to get to the top of the search engines, but if you’re already there, and then find that no one visits your business because personal profiling precludes you from some people’s search results, you’d certainly have every right to feel just a little miffed.