Perhaps you’ve noticed that Google is growing more personal. Since 2009, the search engine has been presenting different results to users who input the same search depending on a number of factors. There’s now evidence from Search Engine Watch that Google is returning more and more individual results, with some signs even pointing to recent purchases factoring into the results.
At the moment, for those signed in to a Google account, searches can be affected by things like:
Even if you’re logged out and searching in a non-incognito capacity, you’ll still get some personalised results.
But how far does it go? Google has gone beyond ‘personalising’ your results – it now directly pulls elements from its other services such as Gmail into the search results panel. Google’s support pages give us more information on what it can pull into your results panel.
In its basic form, this kind of result has no real use for an SEO. However, knowing that Google is pulling influence from its other products opens up a wide range of possibility.
For example, if you have a hotel booking and begin searching for restaurants in the area, personalised search will display the dates you’ll be there and help you make reservations. This means it is vital for businesses to have their local listings Functioning properly so they can rank for local search.
This feature is pulled from Gmail and potentially your browser, although Google has stated in the past that Chrome has no effect on search results.
It is essentially Google sorting your information to create a personalised organisation tool alongside your results. To try it, search ‘my purchases’ in Google when you’re logged in and you’ll see a list of recent purchases that are displayed by email receipts.
Google seems to have introduced a new feature that uses recent purchases to inform the SERPS. Search Engine Watch reported that recent purchases were appearing in generic searches – for example, coffee capsules appearing when the term ‘capsule’ was searched.
This begs the question, how far is too far? Will this lead to people accidently revealing birthday gifts bought on shared PCs? When does search become obtrusive?
Currently, these results are visible exclusively to the user and show no signs of changing. You can also turn them off at will in the search settings page. However, bringing your data, historical bookings, purchases and calendar events into more generic searches does illustrate Google’s willingness to integrate their other services. It creates a personalised assistant style of searching.
All in all, it seems evident that personalised search is going to slowly incorporate more of Google’s wider service offering into the search results panel, making it important for businesses to optimise locally.