Google is doing it. Twine. Twitter. Delicious. They offer a version of it. Yahoo and Microsoft are discussing it. What is it? Personal search. It’s being bandied about as the next big thing. A game changer for search engines, search engine marketing, and search engine optimization. How does it work? Social bookmarking sites, like Twine and Delicious are straightforward: sites you bookmark lead you to other sites other people have bookmarked that are similar. It’s not so much a search as an exploration of similar sites. A community-based approach to finding what you want. That’s not the newest twist on personal search.
For Google, and the other search engines, personal search will become a matter of history, cookies, database, and maybe context-specific inquiries. If many of your searches in the past have been for carburetors, pistons, engines, and automobile repair, Google is going to remember this. When you type in “pump” your results are going to reflect this, delivering “automotive oil pumps” as your primary results. Not “gas pumps” or “high-heeled pumps” or “Aerosmith Pump,” but instead, results that are in line with your previous searches.
Google already tracks where you are searching from, based upon IP, and makes results for specific products and services localized when practical or possible. Soon search engines will be returning results for oil pumps for sale across the street. Which is great for people whose searches tend to be clustered. Perhaps most people. Google can even tell, if you are signed in, if you are searching from work or home and when to give what results based upon time of day. And if you are not signed in, cookies will still let it produce the contextual results that are expect based upon where you are searching from.
What does all this mean for getting your site found? Well, in reality, it should make your site easier to find for the people who need to find it. You are competing against fewer sites, the search engines are presorting based upon searchers’ preferences, people will be more likely to want to visit your site, purchase your products or services, read the information you have. A well written site, designed with best practices for search engine optimization, is going to be even more valuable to the site owner.
Personalized search is a service whose time has come.