As of December 4, 2009, Google’s search results will never be the same. Seriously, they’ll never be the same, even from one computer to another.
In our previous post, we discussed how Google personalized search will affect your business. Now, we look at how a business can influence personalized results, and whether we think that’s a good idea.
Should Businesses Try to Influence Google Personalized Search Results?
Some blackhat SEOs will say “of course, businesses should game the system any way they can.” Others might say that trying to influence personalized search results in any way is unethical (but those people probably work for Google – which, last time we checked, is neither a non-profit organization nor a branch of government). Clearly, the techniques described above could be abused; for example, an unscrupulous SEO company could trick its clients into thinking their ranks are getting better and better, or into thinking the SEO company’s ranks are higher than they really are.
But working with the system is not necessarily abuse. We always advocate 100% ethical SEO, and we advise the following: go ahead and be smart about personalized results, but never use any tactics that you wouldn’t want your potential clients or customers to find out about. Your potential customers are the last people you want to alienate – and they don’t want to be tricked or manipulated.
Influencing Google Personalized Search Results
Here are a few ways that a company could influence personalized results:
- Create a promotion with an unique or unusual name, and build a page for it on your site, for example, “Bring on the PicklePal Pickles!”. Wait for your page to indexed in Google and check to see that you’re ranking #1 for this unusual phrase. (Don’t forget to opt out of personalized search before you check!) (As we’ve said in our book, it’s easy to get a #1 Google ranking for a unique phrase. Now there’s a good reason to do so.) Then promote the Google search results page via Twitter, for example, “Free Pickles this Tuesday! Click on our link here:http://[point to the Google page, not your website.]]”
- If you’re absolutely certain you have very high ranks for a particular phrase, you could include links to your Google results for this phrase – rather than directly to your site – in email campaigns.
- Run print ads with a callout to a Google search rather than your website. (“Hey kids, Google ‘PicklePal Pickles Forever!’ to get your pickle fix!”) Just be sure your site stays at the #1 spot for the phrase! You may have seen something like this on billboards for the movie 2012, which suggested searching for the term “2012.”
- Run an AdWords campaign that includes a call to action telling users to perform a Google search that returns your business’s website. Keep in mind that Google has strict editorial guidelines and this tactic may require some trial and error on your part.
- Seed forums and blog comments with a search call to action where relevant and appropriate. For example, in a forum thread about finding discount pickles, a business can post a reply saying: “We are currently running a discount pickle promotion at www.mysite.com – you can Google ‘discount PicklePal coupon’ [link to the Google search result for this term] and click on the link to see the coupon.”
Caution: We haven’t tried these tactics yet – and we may not recommend them to our clients. We’ll keep you posted as we embark on this new SEO journey.