About a week ago, Bing unveiled a new search feature. This feature is being called “trusted search.” It’s the first major move from search engines into the social world, although Google is expected to follow shortly.
So what is “trusted search” and how does it affect internet marketers, if at all?
Well, the truth is, the internet is rapidly changing. If you’ve been involved in internet marketing for anywhere from a few months to a year, you know this is true. In case you haven’t realized how fast, though, think back to your favorite internet marketing strategy six months ago.
Does that strategy still work today? Could you go out today and start making money online using that strategy? For some, you could, but they’re probably on the decline. For most, absolutely not. Pick up a book on internet marketing from last year. Chances are the majority of that information is now worthless. Change is happening and it’s happening fast.
So What is Personalized Search?
Although Bing’s new feature is called trusted search, it’s actually part of a bigger idea called “personalized search.” If you have a Google account, you’ve probably already seen the results of this new movement.
Prior to personalized search, the Google search engine positions were virtually the same for everyone who searched a specific keyword. If my website was ranked #1 for the keyword “make money online,” for example, everyone who searched that phrase would see my website first – regardless of personal preferences.
Now if you have a Google account, the search engine rankings are going to look different when you’re logged in as opposed to when you’re logged out. Google looks at the websites you visit most often and features those higher up in the rankings.
Although this isn’t a HUGE change yet, it’s a frightening change for internet marketers. For years, SEO was the go-to method for finding free targeted traffic. The process was always the same: write SEO content, build backlinks and get ranks. With personalized search, though, this entire process could be altered drastically.
Back to Bing and “Trusted Search”
Although Google has been playing around with personalized search within their own market, Bing is the first player to really dive headfirst into personalized search. Bing made a seemingly obvious observation. Whenever people take action on something, they usually don’t do so alone. In other words, before the majority of people buy a product or spend any money, they consult their friends first. They don’t want to look like an idiot who bought a product everyone knew was a scam. They want to know a product is worth something from someone who they personally trust.
So Bing took that idea to the next level. If you’re signed into your Facebook account, Bing will now display results based off of what you and your friends “like.”
Here’s a quick example. Let’s say you want to go on vacation to Maui. You’ve never been before, so you head over to Bing to do some research. You type in “Maui hotels.” On the front page, it lists a few big names, but it also lists a hotel that normally wouldn’t be on the front page. Underneath the page, it shows you have five friends who “like” this website.
Now you automatically know those friends enjoyed their stay at that hotel. If you trust those people, you would probably talk to them about their experiences. Your chances of visiting that specific hotel just skyrocketed.
As you can probably see, this has HUGE implications for the history of search. Personally, I think this is a great new feature. It’s true – whenever I’m considering buying a product, I’ll usually check around to see if anyone else has experience with that particular product. If they do, I’ll ask them about their experience to see whether or not I should consider buying that specific product.
Speculation on the Impact of Personalized and Trusted Search
At this point, all we can really do is speculate. We know where the search engines are headed. We know what the implications are for this direction to a very small degree. We’ve seen how being logged into Gmail effects our rankings and how the new Bing update has some serious potential to change the future of the web.
If you’ve been involved in internet marketing for any decent amount of time, these changes probably frighten you a bit. I spent a year of my life learning everything I could about SEO. I learned how to write excellent SEO content, I learned how to effectively build links… I could take websites from the bottom of the rankings to the top consistently.
This new move to personalized search throws a wrench in the current SEO works. It isn’t quite at that point right now, but it’s not a stretch to say in the near future everyone will have a COMPLETELY unique set of search results. How are you supposed to bring in consistent traffic from Google if you can’t control what a certain person likes or dislikes?
On top of this, who’s to say I’ll be getting the results I really want? I’ll admit it: the Gmail change bothers me. When I search for information on the net, a lot of times I want something new. I want a source I haven’t seen before. I like to get all sides of an issue and if Google only shows me what I “like,” how can I get all the information I want?
Obviously there are some kinks to work out. The good news is that the end result will likely be beneficial to everyone involved. If it’s not, they’ll lose money until a new search platform comes out.
For internet marketers, the idea of personalized search is one that needs to be taken very seriously. Who knows? Personalized search could be the beginning to a new “boom,” much like the internet was originally in the late 90’s.
So keep your eyes on social search engines and personalized search. I have a feeling us internet marketers are in for a few surprises.
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