A few years ago I saw an article saying Google had applied for a patented on the concept of basing search results on the users response to the items. The particular application quoted in the article was to base future results on how long a user spent on a page before returning the the search engine. Since then Google has refined the technique to what we now see as personalized search.
Personalized search means your search results are based on your past searches. For example if you are trying to determine the position of your website on the search engine results page (SERP) and continually click on the page once you find it, you may see it rise to a higher position. The search engine has learned your preference for that page when used with a specific set of keywords. Now, the SERP you see has no relevance to that seen by other users searching for the same term.
This means that a high SERP position can no longer be used as the ultimate measure of a websites success in bringing traffic to a site. As personalized search becomes more refined the differences between what you see and what your neighbour sees for the same search results will become more varied.
Search engines are already doing a good job of geo-targeting search results. (see Island Pizza Beats Pizza Hut ) So, a search for a plumber here in Comox is not going to give the same results as a search for an plumber in Victoria or even Campblell River.
So, how do you measure the success of a site? Qualified traffic!
Traffic by itself is a rather useless measure of a sites success. Qualified traffic, users that remain on the site, view at least two pages or, better yet, take some action that will lead to a sale, is the only true measurement. of success.
We still need to use the tools to view the SERP position for someone who doesn’t have a history with your page or keywords. And, we still need tools to get the results of searches from different geographical areas. But, these results now have to be viewed through the lens of personalized search.