Your UNfindable website just became LESS findable

Google personalisation and what it means for your business.

When potential customers search for your company’s services on the internet will they see you in their search results? If they’ve shown previous online interest in your competitors they may not.

What is personalisation?

For a while now, Google has been watching where your customers click and which websites they visit. It then skews their search results to show them more of their preferred websites, more often and in higher positions.

For example, if they search for electronic goods online and visit the Dick Smiths website, Google will push pages from Dick Smiths higher up their search results in future. Google assumes that if you’ve been clicking around the Dick Smith website it’s likely you would be happy to return.

So what you are seeing in your search results is likely to be different from what others are seeing.

Personalization encourages repeat visitors to popular sites

So businesses who’s websites currently appear near the top of search results and are more likely to be visited, will be much more difficult to dislodge from their perch.

When I explained this to a client last week her eye brows lifted and she said, “Wait, I check my own website all the time so does that mean I’m getting a false impression that it’s ranking better than it actually is.”

Yes, she is.  And if she were checking out her competitor’s websites a lot then her own website would look poor in her search results.

Can you turn Google personalisation off?

Not completely. When you search in Google, whether or not you are signed-into your Google account, Google will customize your results according to your past searches and the links you clicked.

However follow Google’s advice to reduce the impact personalisation has on your search results.

How can you take advantage of personalisation?

Firstly, if your business website is currently UNfindable it would be prudent to do something about it sooner rather than later.

Secondly, make sure your website is relevant to your customers. Think about what it is they are really looking for and make sure it’s on your website. Relevancy is king as far as Google is concerned.

Alistair McAlpine is a long-time broadcaster and resident writer/web strategist for internet marketing company Web Success in Wellington, New Zealand.

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