Today’s newsletter covers the topic of local and personalized search. When I began writing this issue I approached it from the belief that local/personalized search could very likely dominate all the search results. If such a change were to happen the SEO industry would be drastically affected. No longer could a site be optimized to achieve top rankings on the search engines because top rankings would vary from person to person and geographic location to geographic location.
By the time I had finished writing the issue my thoughts had changed significantly. As much as Google and other search engines want to do everything they can to enhance search by providing the best results for each individual user, allowing personal and local results to completely dominate the search results would, more times than not, return results that the searcher is NOT interested in.
Let’s say I’m simply performing research on a particular topic. If Google returned pages related to my personal profile settings, many good quality results would be eliminated. Same, too, if Google returned primarily local results first. Quite simply, I’m looking for authoritative information on a subject that has nothing to do with my geographic location or personal interests.
Similarly, if I do a search for a product, Google could return local results, but that won’t necessarily allow me to find the best price on the internet, just be best price in my local area.
All said and done, local and personalized search is a great addition to the search arsenal, but I don’t believe it is logical for localized and personalized results to take the place of the primary search results. These are wonderful ‘onebox’ options, and should remain as such. My conclusion is that I don’t believe that local and personal results will ever dominate the top rankings, unless of course Google feels that the user will be better served by such a change.