Recognizing Personalized Results

In my last post I talked a lot about personalized search results. It occurred to me that it would be nice to show you what I’m talking about. Enjoy these gloriously annotated and illustrative screen shots of a few searches!

Personalized search result examples

First off I did a search for “android.” I chose that term because a lot of the people/brands I have circled in G+ revolve around Android and that tech nerd sort of thing. Sure enough, I came up with 140 personal results, including the Android G+ page.

The same search with personal turned off

Next I simply toggled personal results off. I should have taken a larger screenshot so you could see the difference it made on the first page. still showed up first (as expected) but without the “personal result” icon. After that, all bets were off: the personalized results dominated the page. This was definitely a case where my ranking perspective would be very skewed if I didn’t know what I was actually looking at. It is also good to note that the ads are still localized; the toggle has nothing to do with that.

Local search results

To showcase local results I used the keyword “burger,” because that is something you can find within a short distance of pretty much anywhere. Also because lunch. As you can see, the local results are the focus (Five Guys has probably made a considerable SEO investment to show up above them).

General search results with no location

Finally, I changed my location to United States so that I wasn’t getting any specific local information. Now I can see how the results actually stack up, not just the what is nearby. This is a very helpful tool for a company targeting multiple markets: you can change the location to any city, state, or zip code and find out the local rankings instantly.

There are a plethora of search tools available to help you find exactly what you want. For effective SEO, it’s important (and in some cases necessary) to know how those tools work, and use them to your advantage whenever possible. When we conduct an SEO analysis or site audit, these are some of the things we do to ensure accuracy. Try it out, you may uncover some insight you didn’t expect. Now I’m going to get a burger.