All in the eyes of the beholder

More and more, personalisation in web search has made tracking rankings an interesting journey.  The fact is, due to personalisation by Google and other search engines, what shows up for individuals in different locations / search histories can be vastly different.

Want to test it out? Pick a search term.  Run it while logged in.  Now go Private / Incognito and make sure you are logged out.  See how the search rankings and terms change?

What Does it Mean?

Personalisation is great for searchers in theory.  They can find the websites and information that they most want, in the fastest time possible.

However, as a website owner, personalisation can cause problems.  Depending on search history, IP location, heck even the e-mails you have opened; searches might direct potential customers to the same-old same-old websites.

Which means you need to be concerned about more than just your search placement. What you see might not be what your customer sees, so the idea of ‘generic’ placement is less important.

Filling in the Gaps

How do you fill in the gaps and move yourself upwards? Well, firstly make sure you are targetted correctly.  Let Google know if you are targetting a specific country (like Canada) via Google Webmaster Tools.  It’ll increase your placements for Canadians automatically, even if they aren’t logged in.

Secondly, watch total traffic movement from search engines – not just rankings.  If you see your traffic from search engines increase, you can be relatively certain rankings have gone up – even if to you your rankings might not have moved.

Thirdly, start looking at ways of being ‘outside’ of your sphere of influence – your website.  You’ll need more than just links but advertisements, e-mails, pins, such that viewers encounter you in more places.  That way you generate traffic from more than just search.  In addition, (pure speculation on this) Google might even start taking into account the amount of times / views that they see of you outside of your location, slowly pushing your rank up.  And no, I don’t mean just plain links; but pins and FB fans and the like.

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