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All of the search engines seem to be developing semantics based search technology, in other words trying to work out automatically what relevance words have to each other in any given context.
I'd say that the 'personalisation' here is merely an attempt to quality check an algorithm that Google are working on. The amount of data they can collect from this is huge, as is the processing required to find the relationships between words.
I would not be surprised if this trial does not see a full release, but I'd be equally surprised if it's not the basis for an improved search which is capable of interpreting the meaning of a search and matching documents to it.
If search had SEO, then personalized search will simply have personalized SEO :)
SEO has been 'easy' (compared to the coming breed of SEO). Sure SEO will figure a way to optimize even for personalized search. It will just take time, till they get to know more and more about ways of doing it. The good news is that personalized search will take place in a graceful way, and not abruptly, so the transition would be smoother on SEO anyway.
An initial purely guesswork from me (not to have any practical use but just to point the mind in the direction where it can think on what personalized SEO might look like) SEO can optimize for specific types of people, according to their interests or 'profile'. For instance, there could be the profile of the computer science college student, the profile of a single working mother living in New York, ... etc. SEO can optimize for profiles, perhaps they will not coinside prefectly with Google's personalized search, but at least they might help a bit. As the process goes further, SEO can find new ways of doing this. This will make SEO more difficult, but perhaps more rewarding, for now you can attract the right type of peopel to your web site! How exciting! Being able to more influence the type of traffic, and not just the number.
Let's grasp the opertunity and see what this slowly brings. It's very interesting. I love challenges brought about by new things.
Just by looking at the personalized web search profile it seems almost irrelavent. For example, under recreation, one interest is "pets." What about it? Maybe it could be horses. If its horses, is it training them or riding them? Or maybe its horse race betting.
In summery, to truely be personal the catagories need to be a lot more specific. Many subcatagories may even share hierarchical catagories.
But I'm sure Google is working on this.
I spotted this in the main results and even posted a screenshot but it was deleted by the moderators in my initial post.
The basics are that when you search you get a small yellow box at the top of results reading "New! Google now personalizes search results for My Search History users. Learn more."
There is also a small piece of text (a link) above "1-10 of about.." which reads "Turn off Personalized Search for these results >>".
There is a similar thread on WebProWorld which has a link to the screenshot.
For some keywords i rank in the top 5, click the turn off personalised search in the top right of the search results and my pages are back on the 2nd or 3rd page. One should have the option to turn off personalised search by default for all searches but still be able to access ones search history.
Quite frankly, i do not like google assuming that i want personalised results. What this means as well is that a user of personalised google is only likely to ever see the pages that rank in the top 2 pages. If the user is performaing searches and only ever clicking on certain sites or pages in the top 30, what is the likelyhood of the small site ever getting to the top of results.
I am sure that the desktop search results go a long way to "tailoring" serps by giving google even more user data to toy with. I do not like it, they should make it more clear to the user that they are tailoring results. I did not even notice till the other day when i saw highly competitive results that i never ranked well for previously and then all of a sudde i have broken into the top 5.