Over the past week or so Google has released a slew of updates to its search operation. Some of these are somewhat controversial (personalised search) and some are just aesthetic changes (minimalist homepage) but Google seems to have ramped up their refinement process for the coming festive season. Here are just some of the new updates.

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Google Personalised Search

From around the beginning of December, Google will start tailoring your search results based on previous browsing history, whether you are logged into your Google account or not(This review assumes that you are logged out). In order to allay privacy concerns you can opt out if you wish but most people using Google will be using personalised search by default. Google accomplishes this finding your favoured sites (indicated by which ones you most often click through to) and ranking sites from that brand or theme higher in your particular search results. This means Dymocks might be top of the SER’s for the keyword ‘books’ while for another person the same search will yield Angus & Robertson as the top positioned site. This doesn’t mean the other ranking factors are simply ignored however; they are simply used in conjunction with the personalised result factors. With this version of personalised search ( signed out of Google account), Google can only guess at your preference from what you click on, clicks are what your personalised search is based on, not search history or surfing habits seo rank checker online.

Now you may think this has doom and gloom implications for search engine optimisation, well it doesn’t, not yet anyway. First, Google is going to have to collect huge amounts of click data in order to understand and use your preferences within the SERPS. Good structured pages with terrific content, correctly used HTML attributes and links will still play the majority role in the ranking of sites, whether personalised search takes effect or not. We’re not sure how much weighting the personalised search factor will have within the entire Google algorithm, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people get near identical SERPS, regardless of their click history and habits. I have a feeling they may use the old Google 80/20 rule when implementing personalised search, i.e. 8 ‘normal results’ and 2 results impacted on by personalised search for each SERP.

Google’s New Search Page

Now unlike some of the other tweaks and updates that Google has implemented over the past month or so this is pretty much a purely aesthetic change. When the search page is first loaded, you only see the logo, search box and the search buttons. When you move your mouse the rest of the search page ‘fades in’. This is something that Google has been testing for a while, for example it only worked on Chrome for a while and then periodically for other browsers. The only reason I can think of for this change is to funnel more people to start searching right away, rather than exploring the other links on the page.

Google Real-Time results

Google also announced that Google Real Time search has been rolled out. This feature is going to be rolled out in an incremental process over the next few weeks. Essentially Google is going to start indexing tweets, Facebook status updates (where made publicly visible by the Facebook user and this feature will be rolled out at a later stage) and other forms of real-time information. According to Google, they are processing over ‘a billion documents a day’ from the real-time web. In order to activate this feature you need to click on the show options link just above the results. This opens a whole heap of options, in order to activate the Google real-time results click on latest link. Then just sit back and watch new results blend into the top of your SERPS.

Now with the advent of Twitter, ‘real-time’ seems to be all the rage, with everybody wanting instant gratification. I think the problem Google and the other search engines may be at the juxtaposition of real-time and relevancy. How do you rank a tweet in terms of relevancy to the subject? Is something that is ‘real-time’ better than something that is more relevant? Well, I don’t have answers to these questions but with a couple thousand PHD’s just sitting around thinking up answers to these questions I’m sure the big G has it covered. The following sources of real-time information will be indexed:

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