In the wake of the recent news Danny Sullivan covered excellently at SearchEngineLand in Google Now Personalizes Everyone’s Search Results, some of you may be having a link building PANIC ATTACK.


For the most part, high merit content owners should have no fear, because personalized search doesn’t somehow turn your high-merit content into no-merit content.

I feel a small sense of vindication. It seems like forever since I wrote Google Personalized Search, Google Bookmarks & Link Building. You might want to re-read it. It was a couple years ago.

I’m finally working on that Personalized Link Building Strategies Special Report I mentioned two years ago. The report will not include tricks for fooling algorithms. It will include practical, ethical, and responsible link building advice specific to personalized search results, My goal is to explain what you can and can’t influence, as well as how and when you should.

If I decide to sell this report, it will be at a fraction of the $299 16 page “chart driven unactionable crap the big city consultants put out. I’m a real practioner. I do this stuff, I’m on the keyboard, not the golf course. Even if all I wrote was a full page of tips and advice for every year I’ve been doing this, that’s 16 pages from an expert willing to back it up. That’s worth a few bucks, isn’t it? Email me at if you’d like to know when the report is ready.

The key takeaways from all this

On the web, where engines index URLs by the billions, (the good, the bad and the ugly), signals of trust, merit, and intent of source will be crucial to any search result, including a personalized search result.

Signals of trust, merit, and intent of source can be determined in a couple ways…with an algorithm that looks at on-site or off-site signals, or without an algorithm at all, using offline factors (rarely discussed, BTW).

So links, citations, inclusions and connections, along with confidence, intent, credibility and veracity, aren’t going anywhere, because what other signals are there?

Seriously, if you had a billion dollars and wanted to start a search engine, what’s your big fancy algorithm going to study in order to produce useful results?

What’s likely true is the sources of all signals are getting more and more algorithmic scrutiny, and end users play a larger role in this process in many ways. The links you depend on for both traffic and rank better be bullet-proof and not a house of cards waiting to crumble. If your link building tactics and targets have not been wisely chosen, the day is coming (or already has) when you will not be happy.

The value of certain types of links cannot be underestimated…

Why? Because they are so hard to get, and are based on a decision made by a person (as in, um, personalized) who is a passionate subject expert. They don’t have to be a Ph.D or a librarian or a famous blogger. They just have to be able to provide algorithmic confidence signals. And you need to know what those signals are. I know what many of them are, only because I’ve sat in front of a PC screen for way too many years studying this, working at it, over and over and over. If I’m an expert at all I’m an accidental expert.

And as you know, I’m happy to teach what I know to you.

The ability to identify who and what a true influencer is and why is crucial, for both broad and narrow topics. For any topic. Just as important is knowing how to interact with each one of them in the right way, in order to get what it is you seek. This is where I’ve screamed at the conferences for years that link building and public relations at the highest levels must be thought of both in tandem and as one.

Things are getting interesting, and frankly, I like where I’m positioned, pun intended. There’s a reason my site (and more importantly, my clients) rank well. A merit based, vertically driven, and etiologic link building methodology doesn’t seem so crazy, silly or old school now, does it?

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  1. says

    Thank you for trying to stop the fear mongering over personalized results. Content of merit does not vanish because new signals are introduced or recalibrated. Content of merit is still content of merit, and will be in the results just as before.

  2. says

    Off all the SEO blogs I read, I have become a true fan of yours Eric. Not just for the valuable ideas but because you take a long term approach to link building. It is blogs like yours that got me out of the internet marketing gutter so to speak. To give up on trying to blog comment spam, and other types of bottom feeder tactics to creating something more real. Authority! The reason why so many people go the other way is because of just like most things in life authority has to be earned (except for a lucky few). And so began the long process of building an internet marketing service that has a content and value driven focus. I know I am not the first to tell you this, but you are the internet marketing equivalent of a missionary

  3. Anonymous says

    I don’t think personalized search is that big a deal for most web searchers. I use Google a few times a week for this or that, but I don’t see how they would have any idea who I am or what I might like based on me doing a few searches, when one search is for a movie, another for a recipe, and the other search for weather. Am I wrong?