Does Google personalised listings affect your ranking?

Paul Boag

Google has added a number of tools that allow users to personalise the search results they see. The question is – does this affect how you approach SEO?

I recently received the following from Peter Bennett:

In response to show 199, you said on some of your specific search results, headscape has been pushed to the top. However since show 199 I have since seen 4 new features at the end of each search result that appear when logged in.

I don’t know how long they have been there but i think they deserve a mention. These features are:

  • Where You can Promote listings – which will then place the selected website at the top of your personal google results.
  • You can also ‘demote‘ any websites which you previously Promoted – Which google call Restore
  • You can also add comments for each individual listings which other users can see.
  • Finally you can remove – this will totally remove the chosen listing from your future search results.

In my opinion (although I am not sure), if listings get promoted numerous times by different users, maybe this could affect each listings search position in the long term with Google being able to collate each users preferences.

What do you think?

Google personalised search results

These are exactly the features I was talking about in Show 199 and they have actually been around for a while.

As to whether Google will use these features to inform their rankings, who knows! Even if they do it will be in a minor way. Only the smallest fraction of people searching on Google will use these tools and so Google will not rely too heavily on them.

Bizarrely there has already been extensive debate about whether these features will impact SEO. From my perspective it is a pointless discussion.

Too many website owners spend too much time and money obsessing about Google listings. I am not denying that SEO works. It is possible to manipulate your rankings. However, I would argue that the return on investment is non existence.

SEO building blocks

I was recently talking to one website owner who ran an ecommerce site. He spent thousands of pounds on trying to improve his placement on Google. He succeeded, but he calculates it made him less than £1000 in extra revenue. In short he made a net loss.

I would argue that the only SEO needed, is work you would do anyway. That includes writing relevant, useful copy and ensuring your website is accessible to the broadest possible audience.

At the end of the day none of us will ever know how Google calculates its listings. However we do know that Google wants to connect its searchers with the best content out there. Lets work on making our content the best and making it accessible. Google will do the rest.