By Peyman Aleagha
RISMEDIA, May 20, 2009-Advancements and enhancements are being introduced now by Google for the improvement of their Personalized Search. Google Personalized Search uses the history of searches by the user to present different results based on previous searches. An example given was a search for the word “java.” If your search history shows a great deal of search activity on software and Web topics, you would likely be presented with top results related to the Java Runtime Environment. If you’ve been searching beverages or coffee topics, then you’d get results for the slang term for coffee. And, for those who have been searching through travel and cruise sites, or geography sites, then the island would be in your top results.
Without the use of the history, the results would be mixed, with a little coffee, the island and the software. Obviously, most searchers and certainly Google, will be happier with the relevance of the results presented by personalized search. The goal of all search engines is to present the most relevant material to the searcher so they’ll keep using the engine. Pay Per Click (PPC) marketers are given higher quality scores with lower cost for better click-through ratios, so it’s clear that Google wants the searcher to locate what they want quickly.
With personalized search, users can even move listings higher or lower in the results. A lot of visitors do not bookmark sites, and then they find that they want to return to a site located in a previous search. They’ll re-enter the search term and look for a familiar listing. Now, the searcher can move the listings they like to the top of their results, so they find them quickly the next time around. Also being introduced gradually is the ability to comment on listings.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies and experts are not as happy with personalized search. Years of study have been put into how to honestly get better ranking in search results, as well as how to game the search engines. Many believe that linking will also lose value with this new search tool. There will certainly be a lot of SEO chatter about it, as well as attempts to see how it changes the game. Content is, of course, still the most important thing, with plenty of relevant text always at the top of the list.
But, Google can now search PDF files, transcribe audio to text, and jump into videos to analyze content as well. Many believe that video and audio will become more important, as doing them right usually leads to a stickier site with longer and deeper visits. Does your real estate site have video, and not just videos of your listings? Do you have videos of interest about neighborhoods, the area in general, and activities? You may want to consider getting into video, as you just may finally be able to pull off a better ranking than you’ve been able to do any other way. It’s something your site visitors want anyway. Video has become one of the most popular facets of Internet viewing, with just about any subject matter being of interest to someone.
A question some have asked is whether Google will track the “moving up” of sites by the user in relation to search terms and use this to increase ranking for sites that many have moved to the top of their personal searches. It would seem logical that a great many people moving one particular site to the top on searches for “yourtown real estate” would be something Google would want to use to reward that site in the future. So, getting moved up by people who liked your site just may get you better position.
The good news is that you’ll definitely be easier for them to find again if they liked your site the first visit and moved it up in their search results. We’ve all done it, a repeat search on a certain phrase to re-locate a site we liked but didn’t bookmark. Now it’s simple to just shoot it to the top of our personalized search result page, making it easy to find again next time.
SEO has always presented a moving target, but personalized search has turned it upside down in some ways. Start watching the results for your most popular real estate search terms and see if they’re changing more often than they used to. One sure thing is that some are going to be happy with new higher rankings, while some of those who’ve enjoyed top spots in the past may be doomed to drop.
Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design (http://www.realtysoft.com), Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX (http://www.realtysoft.com/freeidx.php) solutions.
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