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.

Google Launches The ‘About This’ Feature


The search engine giant has launched a feature for its search results snippets that provides more information about search results. Google has tested this before and has decided to launch it now, in BETA mode.

How does It work?

If you want more information about the result given to you, you can simply click on the three dots in the search result snippet. It will give you more information “about this result”, including information from Wikipedia if it is available. You can see if the site is secure, whether it is organic or paid, and much more.

Google said that we will be able to see a description of a website from Wikipedia, “which provides free, reliable information about tens of millions of websites on the web.”

This description will include the most accurate and up-to-date information provided by Wikipedia about the site, as these descriptions are based on Wikipedia’s open editing model, which relies on thousands of contributors around the world.

If there is no Wikipedia description for a specific website, the search engine will display additional context, such as when Google first indexed the site. Here’s an example:

Why Do I Need This?

This is a nice way of providing more information about a page you’ve never heard of before. So, if you’re searching for health or financial information, this additional information might come in handy and give you peace of mind. We highly doubt it would affect your ranking, but you never know how Google plans to use this.


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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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