Personalized Search is making your HR blog invisible

The internet is changing. Okay, no news flash there. What may be news for some however, is how fast it is changing. I was online and searching for some things when I started to notice a few things that I wanted to bring to your attention. Hm… let me do it this way…

THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY, all information was controlled by big time publishers. A la Citizen Kane.

YESTERDAY, the internet was invented, caught on and now all info is at your fingertips.

TODAY, its all about me.

Or rather, its about you. Umm… as I think about it even more, its really about us. Let me point something out to some, but maybe introduce to a greater number of you and that is the term “social signal.” You know what they are, even if you don’t recognize the term. A social signal is a “Facebook Like” or a Tweet or a Google Plus One. Whenever you do any or all of those things, you are sending a message to a search engine that says, “This content that I just tweeted or liked or “plus-oned” is worthy of your attention Mr. (or Miss or Mrs.) search engine, so rank it a bit higher than other content that is not getting any love from me (or anyone else for that matter.) As a result, when I search Google, I see different results than what you see when you search Google, even if we are searching on the very same thing.

I did a search on the word “Palestine” and compared it to the Google search results I would see if I were in Ireland. What I discovered was:

• Four Links were not featured on both pages
• Four Related searches were not featured.
• Only one had an advertisement
• News, images, et cetera were arranged differently

Hmm… I thought that was curious, since before then I thought that Google results were the same for everyone. On a whim, I started digging about more and began paying closer attention to what I was dismissing at a glance before.

I did a search on the word “recruiting” and noticed that some of the links that appeared had been shared by people connected to me.

I did a few more searches and noticed that the more my connections shared, tweeted or gave some other “social signal” about a certain bit of content, the higher it seemed to rank on Google.

Curiouser and curiouser, but maybe this is just a Google thing. I decided to Bing a few searches and I was surprised by how many of my results were shared by people in my network.

So, I started wondering. If the content shared by my network connections is ranked higher, what about the content that is not being shared by my network connections? What about the content I am not giving “love” to via social signals? I mean, I like and plus one and tweet a lot, but I can’t get to everything. Does this mean that if I blog something and its killer content (hey, it could happen), would only my network and their contacts see it (or at least, are more likely to see it), but the rest of the world overlook it because they are only seeing search results made popular by their network and the social signals sent? Hmm…

As someone who blogs, this gave me a cause for concern. So, the geek in me starting looking around and I noticed a few things. I noticed that Facebook tracks your movements online, even when you are logged out of Facebook. They deny it, but patents don’t lie. (Naughty, naughty Facebook. Pants on fire!)

I also discovered that Yahoo has been doing this for quite a few years as well.

So, if Google is personalizing your search results and Bing is personalizing your search results and Yahoo is personalizing your search results and… well, you get the picture. What does it mean for you as a blogger? For that matter, what does it mean for you as a company promoting your jobs to passive candidates? It means a lot! Mind if I make a few suggestions? Well, right off the bat, make it easy for people to tweet, plus one and Facebook like your content. Okay, that was easy enough. What else? Umm…

Use Twitter’s “Who To Follow” link to find influential people on Twitter. Retweets from authoritative people can help your pagerank. (Okay, so this is a newsflash for some, getting influential people to tweet about your content is the latest “linkbuilding” strategy all the SEO kids are doing these days.

Links from Facebook Fan Pages help a lot as well.

And just in case you have not joined the Google Plus bandwagon, a picture is worth a thousand words. (see below) Imagine writing content, Google indexes it, when people see that content, they click your name, visit your profile and see more content from you. I HIGHLY suspect that this will happen a lot when Google Plus launches its business pages. (Hey Google, hurry up with that!) Just a thought…

Okay, I just wanted to share that with you and hopefully spur some food for thought. If you want to make sure that your network connections see this content, please give it a tweet, a like or a Plus One. Cool? Cool… Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

E’ ya’ later!

Jim

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