Google Personalized Search – How I Found a Shortcut to Better Google Rankings

If there was one word I’d use to describe my business mentality, it would be the word “stubborn”. Many times, it’s not such a great thing, i.e. wasting half a day trying to figure out a glitch that has no negative affect on my business just because “I need to get it to work!

However, every once in a while my stubbornness proves to be an asset.

Before I tell you how, I need to let you know one more thing about me: I strongly dislike social media. I have very little time and patience for it.

I can’t imagine hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google+ all day just to get some of my blogging friends to come back to my blog and leave me a comment – doesn’t help me to build up my business whatsoever.

Let’s face it: most of us are online to make money, and social media is a productivity killer that has dubious results on your bottom line.

Yet this post is all about social media. Google+ to be more precise. If you are in a business to make money from your business, you want to pay attention to this.

Back to my stubbornness.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review about a product that had a lot of potential to make it big. My review was very well optimized for all on-page factors, like title, description, header tags, etc., plus I built quite a few quality in-content links from other blogs.

There was absolutely no reason why that review should not have appeared in the top 5 spots (at the very least) for the product name. Yet, it didn’t.

I waited. Built more links. Checked out my competition, which by the way, had barely any links to their reviews.

Nothing.

Remember, I am stubborn, right? Plus, my reputation was on the line. After all, I teach my readers and clients how to drive more traffic to their sites from the search engines, and here I was, couldn’t rank my own stinking post for a very easy keyword.

Long story short, I did manage to finally rank my post, after I changed a few things in it (I bet you are curious what it is that I did, but I’ll have to disappoint you: that’s not what this post is about. LOL)

At that point, I started asking all my SEO friends why they thought my review was nowhere to be found on the first page of Google.

They really didn’t know. HOWEVER, one of them gave me a very valuable piece of information, that was staring at me right in the eye, and yet I never gave it a second thought in the past.

My friend said:

“Ana, you have nothing to worry about. Even though your post is not technically ranking on the first page, it’s STILL showing on the first page for most people who are connected with you via social networks.”

BINGO!

Let’s take a look at a live example of what I mean.

When I do a search for “premium wordpress theme” on Google, this is who I see in spots #5 and 6 out of some 17+ million results:

google plus shares equal high ranking

However, if I perform the same search via Google Incognito (which is really the best way to see the most impartial search results not affected by any personalizations), neither one of those 2 blogs are to be found on the first three pages.

As you can tell from the image above, the only reason I see those two results is because I am connected via Google+ with the bloggers themselves, plus some of our mutual friends gave those posts a +1.

Now that Felix and I are connected on Google+ as well, I bet his blog will start showing for anything “wordpress theme” related in my searches as well.

Let’s break it down a bit and see what lies in the core of this phenomenon and how we can take advantage of it.

Google Personalized Search

It’s no secret that Google is rapidly moving towards “personalized search”. What that basically means is that no two people see the same search results for the same search, because their results are highly influenced by their location, which Google database center they are the closest to, as well as who they know.

That last factor is still fairly new, but it’s quickly moving to become one of the most important determinations on what shows up on the first page of Google FOR YOU.

That’s why most of my readers who are connected with me on all kinds of social networks, ESPECIALLY Google+, see my blog as one of the top results for any given number of keywords, even though I don’t actually rank for them.

But How Does Google Know Who You Are?

I’ve heard this argument before. “But Ana, don’t people need to be logged in to Google to get search results personalized according to their social media connections? How many people really stayed logged in?”

Glad you asked and I am ready to put this issue to rest once a for all.

A couple of weeks ago, Google implemented SSL search. It pretty much caused an uproar in webmaster community, since it affected how Google Analytics shows (or doesn’t show, I should say) the keywords that bring in the search engine traffic.

According to Matt Cutts of Google, only about 4% of all searches would be affected by this though, since SSL search is all about users who are actually logged into their Google accounts at the time of search.

I wrote a post about it soon after the search was implemented and the Google Analytics screenshot I used in that post seemed to support that 4% number.

Google Personalized Search - Google Analytics SettingsNot provided” are the keywords that Google doesn’t want me to see due to SSL search. And no, the number is not significant indeed – only 43 visits (still annoying though).

However, look at this screenshot from my Google Analytics taken about 2 weeks after SSL search was implemented.

Google Personalized Search- Analytics no Keywords Provided

26%!!!

OK, so this is a long way to explain that Google is ever-present in our lives, people DO stayed logged into their Google accounts, Google DOES control what an individual searcher might see in his/her results, and we need to get on top of this.

What Does It Have to Do with Making Money?

As we are well aware, search engines are one of the best, most targeted, and cheapest (as in “free” – doesn’t get any better than that) traffic generation methods out there. If you manage to rank highly for money-making keywords, then you are as good as golden, since most of your search engine traffic will come to your site READY TO BUY.

And you now have a great workaround for ranking highly for those keywords, IF that is you start paying more attention to social media.

I know, I know. It’s social media. Who has the time for it?

However, if you spend your time doing link building, improving your on-page optimization, etc. – all that SEO stuff to rank your site higher for good keywords, isn’t using social media the smart way gets you there as well, just a lot faster?

Practical Tips on Increasing Your Google+ Followers

It comes down to this: The more people you are connected to on Google+ specifically, but also on other social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, the better your site will rank on Google, the more traffic you’ll bring from the search engines, and ultimately the more money you’ll make.

That’s a good reason to start mingling, don’t you think?

Here are some practical tips on how to get connected with more people on G+:

1. Add a Google+ badge.

I’d add it to the sidebar, as well as under each post.

You can get the code for your button here: https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/badge/config

With RichWP: If you are using the RichWP FrameWork, simply add a G+ icon to your icon section and link it to your account. Version 1.5 of the RichWP FrameWork (will be released before X-Mas) you can add up to five icons (three in v1.4 and below) to your header or navigation bars.

2. Ask your readers.

Sometimes it’s as simple as “Would you mind giving this post a +1?

With RichWP: Coming with version 1.5 of the FrameWork, you can activate a variety of social sharing functions under your posts. With v.1.4 and most other WordPress themes, install a sharing plugin.

3. Import your Facebook friends to G+

The best way to do it is to use your Yahoo! email account as a go-between.

All you do is:

  1. Log into your Yahoo! account (create one if you don’t have it yet);
  2. Go under Contacts ==> Tools ==> Import
  3. Choose Facebook to import contacts from and follow the instructions.
  4. Import them to G+ (Circles >> Find People >> Yahoo)

Tip: I am sure you don’t really want all these contacts to linger around in your Yahoo! contact list after the export. You can easily delete them by going into “Contacts” and changing “View All Contacts” to “View Last Import“. Check all and delete.

4. Import your Twitter Followers to G+

The best solution I found for exporting your Twitter followers is to use Simply Measured.

export twitter followers with simply measured

To import to G+: Go to Circles >> Find People >> Adress Book
 

Word of caution: Google Plus has currently set a limit on how many names you can import at a time at 4,000. So if you have more Twitter followers than that, you’ll have to manually edit your CVS file: delete extra contacts or separate them into different files.

5. Send an email to your list.

If you have a list (which you should), ask them to join you on G+.

As a matter of fact, my email template includes a link to my G+ profile, so my subscribers see it in every email I send.

Marketing Takeaway

And there you have it. If all this hasn’t convinced you that Google+ is actually worth your time, I don’t know what else will.

Don’t forget to join Felix on Google+!
And I’d love it if you joined me while at it as well.

traffic generation cafe

About Ana

Traffic, traffic, traffic... Can't do without it, but don't know how to get it? Ana does, and she freely shares her best advice on how to increase web traffic on her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. And don't forget to pick up Ana's 7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination free SEO report while you are at it - stop hoping for more search engine traffic and go get it!

17 Responses to Google Personalized Search – How I Found a Shortcut to Better Google Rankings

  1. Google has effectively turned their own social network into an all but requirement for website owners. The game has changed more in the last year than ever before. Personalized search sounds like a noble cause at first glance but if it was as innocent as they’d have us believe they would have incorporated existing social networks into the mix rather than creating their own. I wonder how long it will take to see “Microsoft” style lawsuits.

    Anyway Ana, I’m glad I followed your tweet and kept reading. When I first started reading I thought it was someone else because you said you dislike social media. That’s tough news for me because I can’t keep up with you as it is. lol Your tips on building our G+ by importing look like a great idea and I’m going to start right away.

    • Ana says:

      I really dislike their leap for personalization, Brian; if I want my search to be for a certain location for instance, I’ll add it to my search, right?

      However, their house – their rules. (I’ve been saying that a lot in the past couple of days with Twitter shutting me down and all :).

      Yes, Google is pretty much saying: want higher rankings? get on G+. All we can do is follow.

      • Ken says:

        Ana, I just discovered you through Lisa Irby’s page, and downloaded your ebook…good info and you crack me up too! lol Question…Twitter shut you down??? Blessings in Christ Sister!
        Ken
        :)

  2. Gerald says:

    Many thanks for sharing this. I was wondering if i should add a +1 icon on my sites. Now the probability is much higher.

  3. Lisa Irby says:

    This is a great, comprehensive post on the future of SEO. I was planning to write something on this and got sidetracked. So I’ll share your post with my followers instead. LOL

  4. robert says:

    Re your “Let’s face it: most of us are online to make money….”

    Are we? I think not. Nothing wrong with $$$, but plenty wrong with the generalization.

    And I can’t approve of your strategy. I get way too many “follows” from people who have absolutely nothing to do with any of my stated interests or tweet content. They just clutter up the timeline and the email.

    Of course, I have no doubt that you have the courage of your “convictions”, such as they are….

    • Ana says:

      Well, “most of us” obviously doesn’t include “all”, Robert.

      I never said to follow everybody and anybody.

      There’s no sense in getting connected with people who don’t want what you have to offer; I am sure you’d agree.

      I am all for TARGETED audience and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  5. Paul says:

    Wow. I’ve been totally ignoring G+ just because I’m sick of social media. I’m glad I read this because it’s important… but a bit frustrated because I feel like as a webmaster I’m being forced to add another freakin’ social network to my list.

    • Ana says:

      I know how you feel, Paul.

      However, if we want to show up in Google search, we need to play by their rules.

      This is not one of those times when I’d choose to be stubborn. LOL

  6. isaac says:

    wow thanks so much for this post this is a very good SEO tips.

  7. Julian says:

    Thank you for these great tips!

    Do you know if it is possible to also export/import Linkedin contacts?

  8. yoyo says:

    Thank you for sharing this, but i still prefer link building and overall useful content.

  9. Dustin says:

    Great post! Thanks.

  10. Daniel says:

    The funny bit of this article is, that you received just 8 g+ so far. And this is the same problem which I experience in my blogs. Only a very few people really push this +1 button…

    • Felix says:

      I agree, but given the given the reach the of this blog, which just started out to be more than just RichWP product announcements, I am happy about the 8 g+ so far ;)

      Another positive effect is that I was able to add quite a few people to my G+ circles.

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