A few days before this writing, Bing released a statement regarding its future search plans. From the looks of it, Bing is the first to start heavily promoting personalized search although Google looks to be close behind. So what is personalized search? More importantly, what does it mean for the future of internet marketing?
Personalized search involves two groups of people: the searcher and the searcher’s social portfolio. Based on these two factors, search engines will deliver search results completely catered to the individual person. Search rankings will stop looking the same for individuals. Instead, each person will get completely different results than the next person.
Obviously, the implications are staggering. Let’s talk about the short term first.
Trusted Search is what Bing calling its latest update. Now whenever you search on Bing, it brings Facebook into the equation. When you get results, you’ll be able to see if any of your Facebook friends “like” the results. For example, if you’re searching for hotels in Maui, results your friends have “liked” on Facebook will show up closer to the top.
Bing realizes people rarely make decisions based on their own research. Instead, they do the research and see if their friends agree with their decision. If they’re going to buy a product, they’ll usually consult close friends over critic’s opinions. By adding the trusted search feature, Bing is working to bring this social information to the searcher immediately, effectively cutting out the middleman.
With the way web 2.0 has been going, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing these types of changes. As time goes on, the social world will incorporate with the searching world even more, so it’s best to prepare for it.
For the individual searcher, this is great news. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are all 100% focused on delivering the best results to their customers.
What does this mean for internet marketers?
SEO has always relied on the search engine results being fairly predictable. Search engines have always had the last word, but the results have always looked the same for all users. This made SEO a process of ranking for keywords and building backlinks. If you could target the right keywords and build the right amount of backlinks, your website could be ranking #1 on the search rankings regardless of who searched for the keyword.
This has led to the creation of “authority websites,” or massive information websites that completely dominate almost every niche.
Let’s throw personalized search into the mix. Now, instead of one universal search engine results page, you have virtually unlimited combinations. First, search engines take the individual’s preferences into consideration. So if you usually click on Ezine Article links, they’ll start showing up a lot more over time when you do searches.
As Bing’s new update shows, the next step is to take your friend’s preferences into consideration. If your friends all like a specific hotel, that hotel will show up higher on YOUR search rankings.
To answer the original question, there’s no way of knowing at this point what the future holds. One thing’s certain, though: the world of SEO is going to change drastically over the next few years.
Although we can’t predict the future, we can plan for the most likely outcomes.
The search engine rankings are about to be completely changed. As internet marketers, it’s important to be flexible. In the short term, SEO strategies will stay the same. However, as search engines change the way they rank websites, many current SEO strategies will probably become obsolete.
For this reason, it’s crucially important to create a community you can take with you regardless of what search engines do. This is what your list is for. This is what your blog is for. Provide value to the people who visit your website. Encourage them to contribute to the community you’re building. Create social network profiles and interact with everyone who joins.
If you have a community built up, it’s not going to matter what Bing or Google do. You’ll be able to take your community with you. The future of SEO is uncertain, but if you build a community NOW, you’ll be able to weather the storm of personalized search when it hits.
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