Google has been quietly making some changes to the way they display search results to the user. All of the changes are predicated on the fact they believe, as do I, that search results need to take into consideration the person who is searching for the information. With so much personal information available to search engines on the internet, Google has been able to capitalize on this idea.
Google has been taking the location of the searcher into consideration for years now. This is easily notice when search for location sensitive queries like “bakery” for instance. You can see the local results in the search results with information like their phone number and address. This was Google’s first step in personalizing your search results.
Now they are pulling from even more personal information to provide you with the best possible search results. They take into consideration what your friends and followers on Facebook and twitter have considered useful information by either “liking it” or “tweeting” it. This information is only available to Google if you have a Google Profile account where you link all of your social networks.
Also, they are now factoring the newly implemented +1 button stats into the search results. You can now see the button on the side of every search results page in Google. This allows users to help Google with their ranking algorithm. With this, there is now a human element to recognizing quality content. As you use the +1 button you will begin to see you search results change to be more comparable to the sites that you have +1’ed.
Now, what does think mean for search engine optimization? I believe that in the world of SEO that quality unique content has never been more important. Computer algorithms have never been great about recognizing good articles or websites but, people have always had a keen eye for it. They know crap when they see it.
This is a welcomed change to many because the quality of searches has been lacking in recent years. Google has been catching flak for displaying terrible sites in top results for a while now. Now is the time to focus on who matters; the searchers. I believe that clean websites with simple user interfaces will prosper in this new environment. Also, sites that are consistently producing good, fresh articles will reap benefits from personalized search.
Only the future will tell what the future of search and SEO will look like. But, I think that those focused on quality will see the most results.