Google Confirms That Personalization is Still an "Extremely Light" Ranking Signal Google Rarely Uses Personalization to Improve Search Results

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - In The News, SEO

For those who were under the impression that personalization in Google Search was now a strong ranking signal, Google’s Danny Sullivan has confirmed once again that this is, in fact, not the case.

Sullivan, who is Google’s Public Search Liason, confirmed on Twitter yesterday that personalization in Google Search continues to be an “extremely light” ranking signal, and using it for ranking purposes is “fairly rare.”

Here’s Sullivan’s full statement:

“It’s extremely light, actually fairly rare, when it comes to results themselves actually having a ranking change.”

While this isn’t exactly breaking news, as Sullivan had previously confirmed this on Twitter back in 2018, the subject was raised again this week by SEO Glen Gabe.

What this means is, that previous searches, search history, along with your likes, dislikes, and demographics are not being heavily used to improve search results. So, it is unlikely that you will notice personalization affecting your Google Search rankings.

It’s important to note that this is separate from geo/location personalization, which is often used.

So, there you have it. Three years later and Google is still treating personalization as an “extremely light” ranking signal. Were you under the impression that this had changed or were you confident that things had remained the same?

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

Study Finds Meta Descriptions Have Biggest Influence on Clickthroughs


Searchers More Likely to Click on Search Results Due to Strong Descriptions Over Branding and Meta Titles

Forget meta titles and branding, that’s so 2019. According to one recent study, meta descriptions are the most influential factor when it comes to whether searchers decide to click on a particular search result. The study, conducted by Ignite Visibility, polled over 500 participants aged 25 to 60 and asked them about what factor has the biggest impact on their decision to click on search results. Nearly 63% named the meta description as having the most influence, follow by brand name at 24.2%, and meta title at 13%. Ignite Visibility Chart Source: Ignite Visibility However, 55.1% of participants also said that they would only click search results from a brand they already were familiar with.

Other Important Takeaways

Ignite Visibility also took the opportunity to ask survey respondents about the current state of Google Search, their overall experience, and how search results have improved. The majority of respondents (58%) indicated they preferred the state of Search in December 2019 –when the survey was conducted – compared to January 2019. And when asked how search results have improved, featured snippets and other SERP features were revealed as the most popular additions to search, with 55.5% indicating that these features vastly improved their search experience. Over 55% of searchers also revealed that they preferred written content in search results compared to images and video. Source: Ignite Visibility

What Users Aren’t Liking About Search

But when asked what they didn’t particularly enjoy about search, two-thirds (66.7%) of the study participants said that having more ads in search results makes them less likely to want to use Google. In addition, 67% also felt that companies should not be able to run ads based on other companies’ branded searches.

What These Results Mean for You

The biggest takeaway from the Ignite Visibility study is to focus on improving your meta descriptions and ensuring they line up with search intent, as Google won’t use your meta descriptions if a better one can be taken from the page’s content. Additional best practices for meta descriptions to follow include:

  • Keeping the character count between 50 and 160
  • Making your meta descriptions very specific
  • Writing unique, compelling descriptions
  • Avoiding duplicate tags
  • Removing quotation marks
  • Maintaining an active voice consistent with your brand
  • Including focus keywords

Supplementing your SEO efforts with brand awareness will also be crucial in order to take advantage of organic visibility.

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Google Allows Site Owners to Temporarily Remove Pages from Search Results


New Removals Report Arrives in Google Search Console

Just like your favourite bar that hasn’t yet been discovered by the masses and become unbearably popular, some things are best kept hidden. And according to Google, this now includes web pages. As announced in a recent article posted to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, the search engine is making it possible to temporarily remove website pages from Google search results. Site owners will be able to do this using the latest version of the Removals report in Google Search Console. This tool will also provide information about any pages that have been already removed or filtered from the adult SafeSearch function following third-party requests. https://twitter.com/googlewmc/status/1222146348780281856

So, How Does it Work?

This new report will include three main sections, which can be found within Google Search Console, under the “Index” menu, labeled as “Removals.”

Temporary Removals

Temporary removals will allow you to request the removal of specific content on your website from Google search results. This functionality will be very useful for site owners that need a certain URL removed quickly from search. Google search console removal request Source: Google There are two removal options available. You can either request that Google temporarily remove the URL of that page from Google Search results for six months and clear the cached copy of the page. Or, you can also request a ‘Clear cache URL’ which will remove the page description snippet in Search results until the page is crawled again.

Outdated Content

The Outdated Content section provides you with access to information regarding any removal requests made against your site using the Remove Outdated Content tool. The Remove Outdated Content tool can be used by anyone, not just site owners, to request that search results be updated to clear out any results showing information that no longer exists on a page.

SafeSearch Filtering

Similar to the Outdated Content section, the new SafeSearch filtering section in Google Search Console will list any pages on your site that were reported by Google users as ‘adult content’ using the SafeSearch Suggestion tool. Google reviews all URLs reported using this tool and will flag them as adult content if it decides that the content is too ‘mature’ or explicit to be included in SafeSearch results.

Why This Matters

This new removal tool is bound to become incredibly beneficial to site owners, webmasters, and even SEOs, as it not only gives you the control to quickly and easily remove content you don’t want to appear in Google Search results, but also learn more about why other content was removed due to third-party requests. Having this kind of knowledge and power enables you to take action and unblock content removal requests you made yourself along with third-party requests. Happy hiding! via GIPHY

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